Monday, May 4, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Deal to improve veterans’ health care costs $17B

Jeff Miller, Bernie Sanders

Senate Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., left, accompanied by House Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, July 28, 2014, to outline their agreement on a compromise plan to fix the vast health care system responsible for treating the nation's veterans. A bipartisan deal to improve veterans' health care would authorize at least $17 billion to fix the health program scandalized by long patient wait times and falsified records covering up delays, the bill's chief supporters said Monday. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

By
July 29, 2014 |

WASHINGTON — A bipartisan deal announced Monday would authorize about $17 billion to help veterans avoid long waits for health care, hire more doctors and nurses to treat veterans and make it easier to fire executives at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

An agreement announced by the chairmen of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs committees is intended to fix a veterans’ health program scandalized by long patient wait times and falsified records covering up delays.

The bill includes $10 billion in emergency spending to make it easier for veterans who can’t get prompt appointments with VA doctors to obtain outside care; $5 billion to hire doctors, nurses and other medical staff; and about $1.5 billion to lease 27 new clinics across the country, lawmakers said.

The bill also would expand a scholarship program for veterans, allow all veterans to qualify for in-state college tuition and grant the VA secretary authority to immediately fire senior executives, while providing employees with streamlined appeal rights.

“This bill makes certain that we address the immediate crisis of veterans being forced onto long waiting lists for health care,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs panel.

The measure also “strengthens the VA so that it will be able to hire the doctors, nurses and medical personnel it needs so we can permanently put an end to the long waiting lists,” Sanders said at a news conference with Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., his House counterpart.

Miller said the bill would “go a long way to resolve the crisis” that is gripping the VA. The agency has been rocked by reports of patients dying while awaiting treatment and mounting evidence that workers falsified or omitted appointment schedules to mask frequent, long delays. The resulting election-year firestorm forced VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign in late May.

Sanders and Miller reached agreement on a plan to reform the VA over the weekend after more than six weeks of sometimes testy talks.

The compromise measure would require the VA to pay private doctors to treat qualifying veterans who can’t get prompt appointments at the VA’s nearly 1,000 hospitals and outpatient clinics, or those who live at least 40 miles from one of them. Only veterans who are enrolled in VA care as of Aug. 1 or live at least 40 miles away would be eligible to get outside care.

The proposed restrictions are important in controlling costs for the program. Congressional budget analysts had projected that tens of thousands of veterans who currently are not treated by the VA would likely seek VA care if they could see a private doctor paid for by the government.

Sanders and Miller acknowledged the bill’s steep cost, but said it would include about $12 billion in new spending after accounting for about $5 billion in unspecified spending cuts from the VA’s budget.

“Funding for veterans’ needs must be considered a ‘cost of war’ and appropriated as emergency spending,” Sanders said. “Planes and tanks and guns are a cost of war. So is taking care of the men and women who fight our battles.”

The deal requires a vote by a conference committee of House and Senate negotiators, and votes in the full House and Senate. Miller and Sanders both predicted passage of the bill by the end of the week, when Congress is set to leave town for a five-week recess.

If approved by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama, the veterans’ bill would be one of the few significant bills signed into law this year.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Obama welcomes the bipartisan deal. “There are much-needed reforms that need to be implemented” at the VA, Earnest said Monday.

The White House is especially pleased that the bill includes emergency spending “to provide VA the additional resources necessary to deliver timely, high-quality care to veterans through a strengthened VA system,” Earnest said.

Garry Augustine, executive director of the Disabled American Veterans, called the compromise a promising first step to rebuild the VA and provide enrolled veterans with timely health care.

“While no veteran should be forced to wait too long or travel too far to get their care, we remain concerned that simply giving veterans plastic cards and wishing them good luck in the private sector is not a substitute for a coordinated system of care,” Augustine said. “The VA must remain fully responsible for ensuring the best health outcomes for veterans.”

An updated audit by the VA this month showed that about 10 percent of veterans seeking medical care at VA hospitals and clinics still have to wait at least 30 days for an appointment. About 46,000 veterans have had to wait at least three months for initial appointments, the report said, and an additional 7,000 veterans who asked for appointments over the past decade never got them.

Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson has said the VA is making improvements, but said veterans in many communities still are waiting too long to receive needed care. The VA provides health care to nearly 9 million enrolled veterans.

The Senate is expected to vote this week to confirm former Procter & Gamble CEO Robert McDonald as the new VA secretary, replacing Gibson.

 

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 1 comment

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Rick WoodJuly 29, 2014 - 7:37 am

    Excellent. Now keep an eye on those starting metrics to measure improvement.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Recent Articles

  • Enter your email address to subscribe and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • .

    Solano News

    New Torah being written for Solano County Jews

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A1, 2 Comments | Gallery

     
    Napa Valley College site of Girls on the Run event

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

     
    Putah Creek Council plans bat outing

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

     
    Vacaville Museum celebrates historic pioneer girl

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3 | Gallery

     
    Chambers of commerce plan Cinco de Mayo event

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

     
    Tickets available for Dixon May Fair, sneak peek

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

     
    Local governments set to meet

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

     
    Fairfield police log: May 2, 2015

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A9

     
    Suisun City police log: May 2, 2015

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A9

    Suisun City police log: May 1, 2015

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

     
    Fairfield police log: May 1, 2015

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

    Biz Buzz: First Northern Bank announces earnings

    By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A10

     
    Weather for Monday, May 4, 2015

    By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B10

    Biz Buzz: Sleep Train continues clothing drive

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

     
    Biz Buzz: Solano College site of business expo

    By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A10

     
    .

    US / World

    Google embeds engineers as professors

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Oyez! Town crier at royal baby birth captures attention

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Quakes hit California, but no damage or injuries reported

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

     
    With rescue near, Boko Haram stoned Nigerian girls to death

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5 | Gallery

    Survey: States spent heavily to clear winter snow and ice

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    City: 2 gunmen killed outside Muhammad cartoon contest

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Slain trooper’s parents say they forgive suspected ambusher

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Baltimore mayor lifts curfew 6 days after riots

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Italy: At least 10 migrants found dead in sea off Libya

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Arab coalition ‘reconnaissance’ troops land in Yemen

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Nepal shuts airport to big jets; more bodies found

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    .

    Living

    Catholics honor mother of church with special event

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

     
    Today in history: Monday, May 4, 2015

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Community Calendar: May 4, 2015

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

     
    Returning home puts far-flung choices in relief

    By Sharon Randall | From Page: B5

    Horoscope: May 4, 2014

    By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A7

     
    Family member has still not paid for commissioned artwork

    By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A7

    .

    Entertainment

    Ashes of ballerina Plisetskaya to be spread over Russia

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

     
    New project in US South promotes music “triangle”

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6 | Gallery

    ‘Avengers’ sequel is second biggest US opener of all time

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

     
    TVGrid May 5

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

    Wanted by the US, Roman Polanski gets film award in Poland

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

     
    TVGrid May 4

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A10

    .

    Sports

    JC softball: Solano eliminated after late rally comes up short

    By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    AP Source: Warriors star Stephen Curry to be named NBA MVP

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

     
    Dale Earnhardt Jr. cruises to 1st Talladega win since 2004

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    McIlroy top of the world at Match Play Championship

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Warriors roll past Grizzlies 101-86 in Game 1 of West semis

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Unusually wild Gray, Vogt HRs carry A’s past Rangers 7-1

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

     
    Texas the front line on high school ECG debate

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Giants beat Angels 5-0 behind Lincecum for 3-game sweep

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

     
    Mayweather takes his $100 million check and runs

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Vonn says relationship with Woods is over

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    5-year drought ends as Chelsea is champion of England again

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Montoya fastest on opening day of Indy tests

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    LeBron, Cavs ready to take on raging Bulls

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Paul questionable as Clippers and Rockets begin series

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    James Taylor debuts new song about Fenway, at Fenway

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Westbrook, Valiante win IMSA Tudor race at Monterey

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Inbee Park wins North Texas Shootout for 2nd time

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Ian Woosnam wins Champions Tour’s Insperity Invitational

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Royals’ Lorenzo Cain drops appeal, begins serving suspension

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    This date in sports history for May 4

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

     
    Beal leads well-rested Wizards past Hawks 104-98 in Game 1

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B10 | Gallery

     
    .

    Business

     
    .

    Obituaries

    Arthur Martin

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

     
    Ora May Bray

    By Daily Republic | From Page: A4

    Lois G. Johnston (Leib) (Bayard)

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

     
    .

    Comics

    Wizard of Id May 5

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Rose is Rose May 5

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Zits May 5

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    For Better or Worse May 5

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    B.C. May 5

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Sally Forth May 5

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Get Fuzzy May 5

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Garfield May 5

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Baldo May 5

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Blondie May 5

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Peanuts May 5

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Pickles May 5

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Frank and Ernest May 5

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Dilbert May 5

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Word Sleuth May 5

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

     
    Bridge May 5

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

    Cryptoquote May 5

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

     
    Crossword May 5

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

    Sudoku May 5

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

     
    Zits May 4

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Garfield May 4

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    B.C. May 4

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Peanuts May 4

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Sally Forth May 4

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Frank and Ernest May 4

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Blondie May 4

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Baldo May 4

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Wizard of Id May 4

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Beetle Bailey May 4

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Baby Blues May 4

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Pickles May 4

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    For Better or Worse May 4

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Get Fuzzy May 4

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Dilbert May 4

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Rose is Rose May 4

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Bridge May 4

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

    Word Sleuth May 4

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

     
    Crossword May 4

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

    Sudoku May 4

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

     
    Cryptoquote May 4

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7