The REAL Facts on Tammy Baldwin and Veterans

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Concerned Veterans For America Was Backed By The Billionaire Koch Brothers And Is Running Ads Attacking Baldwin On Veterans. “Concerned Veterans for America, a group underwritten by billionaire industrialists David and Charles Koch, said Tuesday it will be out with two ads attacking Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin over past problems at the Tomah Veterans Affairs Medical Center.” [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 3/06/18]

Concerned Veterans For America Attacking Baldwin On Tomah VA

Concerned Veterans For America’s Ads Also Attacked Baldwin On The Tomah VA. “A conservative group that's already spent $1.5 million against Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin is dropping another $1.6 million. Concerned Veterans for America announced another round of ads Tuesday that hit Baldwin's handling of the over-prescription of opioids and other drugs at the veterans hospital in Tomah.” [Wisconsin Public Radio, 3/06/18]

Previous Attacks Against Baldwin On Tomah Were Found “False” And “Misleading”

Americas PAC Ran Ads Attacking Tammy Baldwin On Deaths At Tomah VA. “Americas PAC, a super PAC, blames the Wisconsin Democrat for the deaths of three veterans who received care at the facility.” [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 5/05/17]

  • Americas PAC Claimed “Three Disabled Veterans Died” From Baldwin’s Mistakes. “The ad accuses Baldwin of being slow to react to a whistleblower's reports of excessive opioid prescriptions at the Tomah VA hospital. ‘When disabled veterans were counting on her, Tammy Baldwin blinked. Deadly mistakes,’ the ad's narrator says.” [The Capital Times, 4/29/17]

Headline: “Politifact: Attack Falsely Blames Tammy Baldwin For Veterans Deaths.” [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 5/05/17]

  • Politifact Wisconsin Found “The Evidence Lacking” That Baldwin Was Responsible For 3 Veteran Deaths At Tomah VA. “With the 2018 elections still on the distant horizon, an Iowa-based political action committee has attacked U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin in connection with the controversy over the care of veterans at the Tomah VA hospital. […] PolitiFact Wisconsin, in examining the timing and the circumstances of the deaths, finds the evidence lacking.” [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 5/05/17]

PolitiFact Rated Attack “False,” “Lacks Evidence.” “Super PAC attack blaming Tammy Baldwin for deaths of 3 veterans at Tomah VA hospital lacks evidence… One death had nothing to do with overmedication. One was an overdose, but it occurred in Milwaukee years after the veteran stopped being treated in Tomah and before the whistleblower contacted Baldwin. And the third death, though an overdose at the Tomah VA, also occurred before the whistleblower contacted Baldwin (and only one day after she received the inspection report). We rate the statement False.” [PolitiFact, 5/05/17]

International Business Times: “The Ads Were Quickly Condemned For Misleading Listeners.” “The first anti-Baldwin ads were radio spots in April, paid for by Americas PAC. The ads attacked Baldwin for failing to respond quickly enough to whistleblower complaints of opioid abuse at the scandal-plagued Tomah, Wisconsin, Veterans Affairs Medical Center. […]  The ads were quickly condemned for misleading listeners about the nature of the deaths of three veterans who were treated at the facility.” [International Business Times, 5/25/17]

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “PolitiFact Wisconsin...Finds The Evidence Lacking.” “With the 2018 elections still on the distant horizon, an Iowa-based political action committee has attacked U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin in connection with the controversy over the care of veterans at the Tomah VA hospital. […] PolitiFact Wisconsin, in examining the timing and the circumstances of the deaths, finds the evidence lacking.” [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 5/05/17]

Baldwin Called For Multiple
Investigations Into Tomah VA

The Chippewa Herald and Wisconsin State Journal

Baldwin Called On Department Of Veterans Affairs To Investigate Tomah’s Opiate Prescriptions. “U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin has joined Rep. Ron Kind in calling on the Department of Veterans Affairs to investigate allegations of rampant opiate prescriptions to veterans being treated for post-traumatic stress at the Tomah VA Medical Center. […] Baldwin, whose office had previously seen the OIG report and asked the VA to look into anonymous complaints about the use of prescription painkillers, on Tuesday asked the VA Secretary to 'take immediate action to address extremely troubling reports of improper opiate prescribing practices and abuse of administrative authority at the Tomah VA.' In her letter, Baldwin went on to criticize the OIG for its 'reluctance to recognize a clearly significant problem at the Tomah VA.' The OIG report, Baldwin said, 'was limited in focus and therefore not a thorough investigation into Tomah VA operations.'” [Chippewa Herald, 1/13/15]

Baldwin Requested System-Wide Review From Senate’s VA Oversight Committee, Concerned “Problems Are Not Unique To The Tomah Facility.” “Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, made a similar request of the Senate's VA oversight committee, calling for a system-wide review. ‘I am concerned that these problems are not unique to the Tomah facility,’ Baldwin wrote. ‘Therefore, I request that the hearing also examine the problem of overmedication across the VA network, particularly the use of opioids for mental health treatment.’” [Wisconsin State Journal, 1/23/15]

Baldwin Worked Across Party Lines To Pass Reforms That Strengthen Oversight At VA Hospitals Like Tomah

Military Times and WQOW

Baldwin Introduced Bipartisan Legislation To Strengthen VA Oversight And Veteran Care.Baldwin will introduce legislation to strengthen VA's oversight of opiate drug prescriptions and pain management programs. Baldwin's proposed Jason Simcakoski Memorial Opioid Safety bill would create a number of safeguards to protect veterans and improve VA medical care. It would require VA and the Defense Department to update clinical practice guidelines for opioid therapy for pain; mandate training for VA doctors who prescribe opioids; and create pain management boards in all VA regions that would oversee compliance of pain management practices at each VA facility.” [Military Times, 6/16/15]

  • Baldwin’s Bill was Passed and Signed Into Law in 2016. [WQOW, 7/13/16]

  • Baldwin Won Additional Funds For Continued Implementation This Year. “As a member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies, Senator Baldwin secured an additional $50 million for the continued implementation of the Jason Simcakoski Memorial and Promise Act. The bipartisan VA reform, signed into law last year, strengthens VA opioid prescribing guidelines, puts in place stronger oversight and accountability, and provides safer and more effective pain management services for our nation’s veterans. Senator Baldwin authored the legislation in close consultation with medical professionals, veterans service organizations, and the Simcakoski family. Senator Baldwin held a roundtable with key stakeholders last year to monitor the implementation of these bipartisan VA reforms.” [Baldwin Press Release, 5/08/17]

Baldwin Cosponsored Bipartisan Whistleblower Protection Act That Was Signed Into Law. “U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) applauded President Trump signing the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability 
and Whistleblower Protection Act into law today. Senator Baldwin had joined Senators Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Jon Tester (D-MT) and 35 other Senators as cosponsors of the legislation.” [Baldwin Press Release, 6/23/17]

  • Bill Would Increase VA Authority To Remove Poorly Performing Employees. “The Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act increases the VA’s authority to remove employees at all levels of the department, shortens the removal process and ensures an individual removed from the VA is not kept on the VA’s payroll while appealing that decision - all without sacrificing due process rights.” [Baldwin Press Release, 6/23/17]

Baldwin Also Introduced and Passed Legislation to Make Overdose Kits More Affordable and Accessible to Veterans. “A bipartisan bill aimed at curbing the heroin epidemic in the country is headed to President Obama's desk with a measure authored by Senator Tammy Baldwin…The Act is part of the overall $900 million legislation also includes Senator Baldwin’s bipartisan bill with Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) to make naloxone rescue kits more affordable and accessible to our nation’s veterans by eliminating veteran co-payments for naloxone.” [WHBL, 7/14/16]

Baldwin Introduced Bipartisan Legislation To Protect Veterans Seeking Care In Their Own Communities From Unsafe Providers. “U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) today introduced legislation to ensure our veterans receive care from trusted doctors in their communities. The bipartisan Veterans Acquiring Community Care Expect Safe Services (ACCESS) Act would protect veterans seeking care through VA community care programs, like the Choice Program, from being treated by doctors who have been fired or who are suspended from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).” [Baldwin Press Release, 5/17/17]

  • Legislation Would Protect Veterans From Poorly Performing Medical Providers. “Currently, a loose patchwork of VA regulations are intended to stop fired or suspended VA providers from participating in VA-administered community care programs. However, VA's continued lack of consistent implementation of national standards at the local level demonstrates that Congress must act and not leave veterans' health and safety to chance. The Veterans ACCESS Act would require the VA Secretary to deny or revoke the eligibility of a healthcare provider to participate in community programs if that provider was removed from employment with VA, violated his or her medical license, had a Department certification revoked, or broke the law.” [Baldwin Press Release, 5/17/17]

  • Bill Unanimously Passed The Senate. “U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) bipartisan reform to ensure veterans receive care from trusted doctors in their communities passed in the Senate on Thursday by unanimous consent. The bipartisan Veterans Acquiring Community Care Expect Safe Services (ACCESS) Act will protect veterans seeking care through VA community care programs, like the Choice Program, from being treated by doctors who have been fired or who are suspended from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).” [Baldwin Press Release, 11/10/17]

Baldwin Cosponsored And Passed Legislation To Help Get Veterans Access To Care In Their Own Communities. “Bipartisan legislation supported by U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin to fix the VA Choice Program for Wisconsin veterans passed Congress and is set to be signed into law. The bipartisan Veterans Choice Program Improvement Act is part of Senator Baldwin’s 3-point plan to help veterans get the quality care they deserve in their own communities. The VA Choice Program was intended to help veterans receive timely and quality care in their own communities, outside of VA facilities. However, as many Wisconsin veterans shared their stories and frustrations with Senator Baldwin, it became clear that the VA Choice Program was not working well for veterans.” [Baldwin Press Release, 4/07/17]

  • Bill Would Reduce Out-Of-Pocket Costs For Veterans. “The Veterans Choice Program Improvement Act, authored by Senator Jon Tester (D-MT), Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, would make the VA the primary payer under the Choice Program, reducing veterans’ out-of-pocket expenses and aligning the Choice Program with the VA’s other community care programs” [Baldwin Press Release, 4/07/17]

Baldwin Cosponsored Legislation To Address VA Backlog. “U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin today applauded the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee passage of the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017. Senator Baldwin cosponsored the bipartisan legislation, which seeks to overhaul the current process for veterans’ appeals at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The VA’s current appeals process is in desperate need of updating, and nearly half a million veterans are in limbo because of the VA’s existing backlog. Between fiscal year 2015 and fiscal year 2017, the number of pending appeals increased from approximately 380,000 to 470,000 – a more than 20 percent increase.” [Baldwin Press Release, 6/29/17]

  • Measure Would Create More Paths For Veterans To Seek Redress On Decisions On Claims Benefits. “The measure, which passed the committee by voice vote, would create three separate paths for veterans to choose from when seeking redress from a decision by the Veterans Benefits Administration on their claims for VA benefits. The Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 allows certain veterans already going through the appeals process to opt in to the new system and gives the VA secretary the authority to test facets of the new system prior to full implementation. The bill also requires the VA to provide a comprehensive plan for both implementing the new system and processing the existing appeals.” [Baldwin Press Release, 6/29/17]

Baldwin Sponsored Veterans Choice Improvement Act To Speed Up Care. “One piece of legislation can help: the bipartisan Veterans Choice Program Improvement Act (S. 544). It will cut red tape to expedite care by allowing the VA to become the primary payer in the VA Choice Program. Senator Tammy Baldwin has joined John McCain and others in co-sponsoring this bill.” [The Daily Press, 3/29/17]

Baldwin Contacted VA Secretary To Move Scheduling To Local VA Medical Centers To Make The Process More Efficient. “Even scheduling an appointment can be frustrating. At this point scheduling goes through a private contractor, but that has led to delays and complaints from veterans. Sen. Baldwin has written to the VA Secretary David Shulkin, asking him to make scheduling more efficient by moving it from the contractor to local VA Medical Centers.” [The Daily Press, 3/29/17]

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