Senators Strike Deal to Get Sick Vets Health Care
Those who have to wait too long could go outside system
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 5, 2014 5:00 PM CDT
File photo of the St. Louis VA Medical Center.   (AP Photo/Jim Salter)

(Newser) – Senior senators reached agreement today on the framework for a bipartisan bill that would help veterans' get health care outside the government's Veterans Affairs hospitals and clinics. The bill would allow veterans who experience waits of 30 days or more for VA appointments or who live at least 40 miles from a VA hospital or clinic to use private doctors enrolled as providers for Medicare, military TRICARE, or other government health care programs. It also would let the VA immediately fire as many as 450 senior regional executives and hospital administrators for poor performance.

The bill resembles a measure passed last month by the House, but includes a 28-day appeal process omitted by the House legislation. The Senate deal came as acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson announced that 18 veterans who were kept off official VA waiting lists in the Phoenix area have died. Gibson said he does not know whether the deaths were related to long waiting times to see a VA doctor. The 18 veterans who died were among 1,700 veterans identified in a federal report as being kept off an electronic waiting list of scheduled appointments, Gibson said. Taking care of those 1,700 veterans is his top priority as VA chief, Gibson said during a tour of VA facilities in Phoenix, where the furor started. (In another development, the VA was apparently punishing whistle-blowers.)

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Chris Farley
Jun 6, 2014 6:32 AM CDT
Way to go Bernie Sanders. I have my reservations on if this will make it through the other house and ever become law., but good work.
Jun 6, 2014 5:52 AM CDT
So they reached and agreement and decided on a framework. Let's see if the bill actually gets passed without a bunch of secret amendments tacked on to it. Veterans should get the same level of health care that our congress is entitled to, after all they went and did all the dirty work of fighting for their country, congress just makes themselves rich and then gets taken care of for life.
Crazy Horse
Jun 6, 2014 12:15 AM CDT
I would like to see an end to the military fly-overs and football field sized flags at sporting events. If you want to honor our service members just take proper care of them they return from war.