With only a week before the August recess, negotiations broke down over how much money to spend and how to pay for it.
The Wall Street Journal: VA Talks At Impasse In Congress As Negotiators Feud Publicly
Congressional negotiations to address problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs devolved into a public feud on Thursday, amplifying concerns that lawmakers won't be able to complete legislation before leaving for their August break. The lead House and Senate negotiators criticized each other publicly while suggesting that the two chambers remain apart on legislation intended to respond to widespread mismanagement and long wait times at VA hospitals. While Rep. Jeff Miller (R., Fla.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) said they still hope to overcome the impasse, both suggested it could be difficult with only a week left before lawmakers leave Washington for a five-week recess (Crittenden and Kesling, 7/24).
Politico: VA Reform Hits Stalemate
When revelations surfaced earlier this summer that the Department of Veterans Affairs provided poor health care to veterans -- leading to some deaths -- a genuine scandal erupted and Congress promised to impose big changes. But staring down the August recess, the effort to overhaul the agency is on the verge of collapse (Everett and French, 7/24).
Modern Healthcare: Competing New VA Bills In Congress Cloud Prospects For Any Deal
The chairmen of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs' committees have released new competing proposals on how to address the waitlist woes currently plaguing the VA. The House version provides $10 billion in immediate emergency VA funding, while the Senate version would cost $25 billion over the next three years, and is only partially offset by $3.3 billion in savings from other areas of VA (Dickson, 7/24).
NBC News: Congress So Far Unable to Compromise on Veterans Bill
The disagreement now centers on how much money should be spent to fix widespread delays in care that led to a number of veterans dying before they could receive proper care. But the breakdown in negotiations is personal. Sanders became visibly angry as he detailed how his counterpart in the Republican House, Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Calif., called him at 10 p.m. the night before to announce his own version of veterans legislation and declare he wanted to vote on it the next day. "That is not democracy. That is not negotiation," Sanders said (Hunt, 7/24).
Reuters: VA Bill Hits Deadlock In U.S. Congress Over $15B Gap
Negotiations over legislation to ease the Veterans Affairs health-care crisis broke down on Thursday as leaders of the House and Senate veterans committees rolled out competing proposals with a $15 billion gap between them. Instead of working out their differences, Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent, and Republican Representative Jeff Miller criticized each other in public statements for failing to negotiate. Miller hastily called a meeting of negotiators to introduce his bill but it was boycotted by Democrats, who called it a "stunt" aimed at pushing his plan through quickly (Lawder, 7/24).
Also in the news is a new poll of veterans --
Fox News: VA Health Care Works Once Vets Get Seen
A survey of Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans finds that most who are receiving mental health care are "overwhelmingly satisfied" with the care, no matter if it's from the Department of Veterans Affairs or an outside provider. The finding is included in the 2014 survey of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America released on Thursday during a press conference and panel discussion at the National Press Building in Washington, DC (Jordan, 7/24).
This 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.