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AHCA Ends VA Hospital Access Lawsuit

May 14, 2015
Originally published on May 14, 2015 9:02 am

The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration on Wednesday dismissed a nearly year-old lawsuit aimed at giving state inspectors access to federal Veterans Affairs medical centers and documents.

AHCA and two individual plaintiffs filed a notice in federal court in Tampa that they were dismissing the case, and U.S. District Judge Charlene Edwards Honeywell formally approved the dismissal. The federal government fought the lawsuit, arguing last year that the U.S. Constitution's "Supremacy Clause," bars states from regulating federal activities without consent.

Gov. Rick Scott's office said the dismissal came after Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald fulfilled state requests for access to information about VA medical facilities, which became embroiled in controversy last year because of reports of substandard care and conditions.

The governor's office released correspondence indicating Scott and McDonald spoke on the telephone March 18. McDonald, in a May 4 follow-up letter, expressed willingness to provide reports about inspections of the facilities and information about remedial actions by the VA.

In a letter Wednesday, Scott said he appreciated McDonald's willingness to provide audit reports to AHCA.

"We have said for some time that Veterans Affairs was not taking our requests for information seriously, and your commitment demonstrates a fundamental shift from how the federal department previously operated,'' Scott wrote. "It is imperative, however, that the VA follow through on its commitments; no doubt greater transparency and accountability will benefit our veterans."