House approves sweeping overhaul of vets' health care system

The chamber passed the $16.3 billion measure 420 to 5, and it is expected to clear the Senate by the end of the day Thursday.

The Washington Post: House Easily Approves VA Overhaul
House lawmakers easily passed a sweeping overhaul of the troubled Department of Veterans Affairs that will make it easier for the nation's military veterans to seek medical care outside the government-run system. On a vote of 420 to 5, the House sent the legislation to the Senate, where it is expected to be easily approved by the end of Thursday. Five conservative Republicans voted against the legislation: Reps. Rick Crawford (Ark.), Walter Jones (N.C.), Jack Kingston (Ga.), Mark Sanford (S.C.) and Steve Stockman (Tex.). It was not immediately clear why they did so (O'Keefe, 7/30).

The Associated Press: House Approves VA Health Care Overhaul
The House overwhelmingly approved a landmark bill Wednesday to help veterans avoid long waits for health care that have plagued the Veterans Affairs Department for years. The $16.3 billion measure also would allow the VA to hire thousands of doctors and nurses and rewrite employment rules to make it easier to fire senior executives judged to be negligent or performing poorly (7/30).

The Wall Street Journal: House Passes $17 Billion Overhaul Of Department Of Veterans Affairs
The legislation, if approved by the Senate and signed by President Barack Obama, would provide the VA with $10 billion to allow veterans experiencing long appointment wait times, or who live far from VA hospitals, to see non-VA doctors to get health care. It would also provide $5 billion to hire new doctors, nurses and other staff, as well as make infrastructure improvements. The bill includes other provisions, including allowing the VA secretary more power to fire underperforming executives, expanding health care for rural veterans and leasing more than two-dozen facilities, bringing the total cost of the bill to $17 billion (Kesling, 7/30).

Politico: House Approves VA Reform Bill
The agency has been widely criticized in the wake of reports that it manipulated data on its wait times, hiding delays that in some cases contributed to the deaths of veterans. There has been overwhelming support in Congress to overhaul the agency after the White House found a "corrosive culture" of corruption within the department - a report that prompted former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign (French, 7/30).

The Associated Press: What's In Bill To Overhaul VA
Congress is set to adopt a landmark bill to help veterans avoid long waits for health care, hire more doctors and nurses to treat them and make it easier to fire senior executives at the Veterans Affairs Department. The House approved the bill Wednesday, with a Senate vote expected Thursday. Congressional budget analysts estimate the bill will cost about $16.3 billion over three years and add $10 billion to the federal deficit over 10 years after cost savings are included, such as changes in a veterans' retirement program and reimbursements by insurance companies (7/31).

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis article was reprinted from 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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