Obama to sign overhaul of veterans' health care

Veterans are expected to have an easier time getting health care under a $16.3 billion measure the president is expected to sign into law Thursday, enabling the hiring of thousands of doctors and nurses. 

Reuters: Obama To Sign $16.3B Veterans Spending Bill
President Barack Obama will travel to a military facility outside Washington on Thursday to sign a $16.3 billion plan to ease health care delays at Veterans Affairs facilities as he seeks to restore confidence in an agency tarnished by the problem. The legislation, passed just before Congress left for summer recess, is intended to clear months-long wait lists for healthcare appointments at VA hospitals and clinics. News that the agency was covering up the delays led to the ouster of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki in May. The measure contains $10 billion in new emergency spending and allows veterans to use private doctors at the department's expense if they cannot get an appointment in less than 30 days (8/6). 

The Associated Press: Obama to Sign Veterans' Health Care Overhaul
Veterans are expected to have an easier time getting government-paid health care from local doctors under a bill that President Barack Obama is set to sign into law Thursday. The $16.3 billion measure also allows the Veterans Affairs Department to hire thousands of doctors, nurses and other health professionals at the VA's nearly 1,000 hospitals and outpatient clinics nationwide. Under the new law, employment rules will be revised to make it easier to fire senior VA executives judged to be negligent or performing poorly (Daly, 8/7)

The Associated Press: Major Provisions of Veterans Health Care Bill
A bill approved by Congress aims to alleviate delays many veterans have faced in getting treatment at Veterans Affairs hospitals and clinics and end the widespread practice of covering up long wait times for appointments. The legislation also makes it easier to fire hospital administration and other senior VA executives. Congressional budget analysts put the cost of the bill at $16.3 billion over three years and estimate it will add $10 billion to federal deficits over the next 10 years (8/7).

USA Today's The Oval: Obama's Day: The VA Bill
Health care for veterans tops President Obama's agenda Thursday as he signs a bill designed to reform and improve VA hospitals. The president travels to Fort Belvoir, Va., to sign the Veterans' Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act of 2014 (Jackson, 8/7).

The Associated Press: Hearing Addresses VA Health Care Issues
Steps are being taken to improve access to health care for veterans across the country, but some members of Congress said Wednesday that more needs to be done when it comes to providing mental health care for rural veterans. Republican Congressman Jeff Miller of Florida visited Roswell to lead a field hearing for the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs. The panel included U.S. Reps. Steve Pearce of New Mexico and Doug Lamborn of Colorado as well as veterans from southeastern New Mexico (8/6).

Marketplace: Will The Cash From The VA Healthcare Overhaul Help?
President Barack Obama is expected to sign legislation that would pump just under $17 billion into the Department of Veterans Affairs' struggling healthcare system. The agency came under fire earlier this year over unacceptable treatment delays and after staff manipulated patient wait lists. The money from this legislation would go toward hiring staff -; nurses and doctors -; and to allow some veterans to get care outside the VA system. It's a sign Congress wants veterans to get care, pronto (Gorenstein, 8/7).

The Associated Press: VA Executive: Wait Times Can Be Fixed in 2 Years
Long wait times for veterans to get health care can be cleared up in two years, along with investigations of employees accused of falsifying data to hide the problem, Deputy Veterans Affairs Secretary Sloan Gibson said Wednesday. Gibson, who toured the Denver VA hospital, said his department has to change its culture to get employees to take responsibility for solving problems. Most VA workers are dedicated and know change is necessary, he said (Elliott, 8/6).

Meanwhile, a veterans group will survey members about their experiences trying to get care --

The Washington Post: Veterans Can Share Their VA Experiences With This Survey
A veterans group on Wednesday launched a new survey to gather information about veterans' experiences with the troubled Department of Veterans Affairs. The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, which developed the survey, including extensive wait times at the agency's medical centers and a longstanding backlog of disability claims (Hicks, 8/6).

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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