Senators reach bipartisan deal to fix VA

Published on June 6, 2014 at 10:07 AM · No Comments

The agreement, announced Thursday by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., gives authority to the acting VA chief to fire senior officials and to allow veterans who have experienced long waits or who live further than 40 miles from a VA facility to seek care elsewhere. If passed by both houses, the bill would also authorize VA to spend $500 million hiring new doctors and nurses.

The New York Times: Senators Reach Accord Easing Worries Over Veterans' Health Measure
In the wake of a revelations that officials at veterans hospitals across the country have been manipulating patients' appointment times by creating secret waiting lists, two senators reached a bipartisan accord on Thursday to give authority to the acting Veterans Affairs secretary to fire senior officials and to expand access for veterans who do not live near medical facilities or have experienced long waits (Weisman and Steinhauer, 6/5).

The Washington Post: Senators Reach Bipartisan Deal On Bill To Fix VA
The agreement would allow veterans who live more than 40 miles from a VA facility or who are experiencing long wait times to seek care at other government or private medical facilities. Senators also propose providing $500 million for VA to hire more doctors and nurses to meet growing demand nationwide. "Right now we have a crisis on our hands and it's imperative that we deal with that crisis," Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said as he announced the deal Thursday afternoon (O'Keefe, 6/5).

Los Angeles Times: Senate Reaches Bipartisan Deal To Fix VA 'Crisis'
Two U.S. senators on Thursday announced a bipartisan deal on legislation aimed at improving healthcare for veterans in response to reports of Veterans Affairs employees falsifying records to conceal long waits for medical appointments. Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, and John McCain (R-Ariz.) announced the agreement from the Senate floor as a group of senators headed to Normandy, France, for the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings (Simon, 6/5).

The Wall Street Journal: Senators Reach Bipartisan Accord To Overhaul Veterans Affairs Department
The bill also would offer veterans the choice to use medical providers outside the VA system if they experience long wait times at their VA provider or live more than 40 miles away from a VA hospital. In addition, the legislation would improve access to health care for military sexual assault survivors and provide in-state tuition for veterans at public colleges or universities. It would also create a task force that would review the VA's scheduling needs and be authorized to fund the implementation of solutions (Ballhaus, 6/5).

Politico: Bernie Sanders, John McCain Strike VA Deal
The compromise measure, announced Thursday on the Senate floor, includes pieces of three VA bills that have been introduced in the Senate. The legislation would allow veterans to see private doctors outside the VA system if they experience long wait times or live more than 40 miles from a VA facility. And it incorporates provisions from legislation introduced in the Senate by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) making it easier to fire VA officials. Similar legislation overwhelmingly passed the House last month and is included in the Sanders-McCain deal with the addition of an appellate process (Herb, 6/5).

Los Angeles Times: VA Chief To Investigate Deaths Of 18 Who Waited For Care In Phoenix
Eighteen veterans died while waiting for appointments at the Phoenix VA medical center, the acting secretary of Veterans Affairs said Thursday, as senators reached a bipartisan deal on legislation aimed at improving veterans' healthcare in response to coverups of long waits that have caused national outrage. Sloan Gibson, the acting VA chief, said that he has asked investigators to determine how many of the 18 deaths were the result of a delay in care. If any deaths were caused by delayed care, he pledged to return to Arizona and personally apologize to survivors. In Washington, Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, and John McCain (R-Ariz.) announced the agreement, as some senators headed to Normandy, France, for the 70th anniversary of the D-day landings (Carcamo and Simon, 6/5).

The Associated Press: VA Chief: 18 Vets Left Off Waiting List Have Died
Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson said he does not know whether the 18 new deaths were related to long waiting times for appointments but said they were in addition to the 17 reported last month by the VA's inspector general. The announcement of the deaths came as senior senators reached agreement Thursday on the framework for a bipartisan bill making it easier for veterans to get health care outside VA hospitals and clinics (6/5).

Meanwhile, local and regional coverage probes care at specific VA facilities -

The Associated Press: Florida Files Suit Against VA For Hospital Access
State officials who have been blocked in their attempts to inspect federal Veterans Affairs hospitals in Florida filed a lawsuit Thursday aimed at giving them such access as they seek to confirm allegations of substandard care. The state Agency for Health Care Administration filed suit in a federal court in Tampa, on the same day that Acting federal VA Secretary Sloan Gibson announced the agency will release nationwide data on patient wait times next week. Gibson made the announcement Thursday during a visit to the Phoenix health care facility that was the initial focus of recent widespread complaints over veterans and wait times (Lush, 6/5).

The Associated Press: Missouri Senator Says Kansas City VA Had Secret List
The Veterans Affairs medical center in Kansas City, Missouri, maintained a secret waiting list of veterans, the latest of several centers around the country found to have such an unauthorized list, U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt's office said Thursday. Blunt spokeswoman Amber March and said the list contains the names of 37 veterans -; all of them heart patients (Draper and Salter, 6/5).

And one report looks at a potential nominee to head the VA -

The Washington Post: Key Facts About Potential VA Nominee Delos Cosgrove
The White House has reportedly contacted the chief executive of the renowned Cleveland Clinic, Delos "Toby" Cosgrove, about heading the Department of Veterans Affairs in the wake of a scandal involving treatment delays and falsification of scheduling records. Former VA Secretary Erik Shinseki resigned last week after an inspector general's report detailed the problems, and President Obama named Sloan Gibson, the VA's former No. 2, to serve as interim head of the agency (Hicks, 6/5).

 


http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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