Wednesday, October 22, 2014
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
.

Solano News

Logue wins US Chamber of Commerce support

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A1

 
Crime key topic again at Fairfield candidates night

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A1, 35 Comments | Gallery

 
Dixon corn maze breaks own world record

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A2, 2 Comments | Gallery

Families Helping Families preps for holidays

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

 
Charity Tree Auction application deadline nears

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

Tots can trick-or-treat at Solano Town Center

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

 
Car washes raising money to fight breast cancer

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

Fairfield Police Department promotes 2, honors 1

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
 
2 new challenges part of 2014 Solano Turkey Trot

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
PAL center seeks volunteers

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

Suisun council splits on housing element changes

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A5

 
Solano names new First 5 director

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A6

 
$1.4M land sale by Fairfield gets OK

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A6

Action, thriller movies headed to box office

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A7

 
Fairfield police log: Oct. 19, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Fairfield police log: Oct. 18, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Suisun City police log: Oct. 20, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Suisun City police log: Oct. 19, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Suisun City police log: Oct. 18, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Fairfield police log: Oct. 20, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
.

US / World

FBI: Denver girls may have tried to join jihadis

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
IS fighters seize weapons cache meant for Kurds

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Assad pursues withering campaign against rebels

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
7 arrested in Oakland raid on Black Muslim Temple

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Stinky seaweed piling up at upscale Laguna Beach

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Golden Gate Bridge officials float sidewalk toll

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

5 Jonestown victims buried in California

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8 | Gallery

 
New rules adopted in hopes of spurring home loans

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

California man goes missing during road trip

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8, 1 Comment

 
2nd guilty plea in California tainted beef case

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

Former Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee dies

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Pakistani Nobel laureate honored in Philadelphia

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Cadaver dog searches in suspected serial killings

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Schools scoured in search for ambush suspect

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

AP-GfK Poll: Most expect GOP victory in November

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
Freed Vietnamese dissident travels to US: official

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

North Korea frees US man; 2 more still detained

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
US expands Ebola checks; Rwanda to check Americans

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

WHO: Ebola vaccine trials in W. Africa in January

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
Brown meets with health care experts about Ebola

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

.

Opinion

Day, Blankenchip good for respective cities

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 3 Comments

 
‘Misleading’ mailer sent to residents

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 2 Comments

Expect voter participation to drop

By Dan Walters | From Page: A11

 

PUC chief: Likely 1st test for new Brown term

By Thomas Elias | From Page: A11

Editorial Cartoons: Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

 
Spering kept youth league going

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 11 Comments

.

Living

Today in History: Oct. 22, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Oct. 22, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Horoscopes: Oct. 22, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B6

 
Is it OK for a business to use its contacts to raise money for a charity?

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B6

Hummus and chocolate together? Deliciously so!

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Easy slow cooker chili that lives up to the hype

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

Roasted beets can brighten up any holiday table

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
.

Entertainment

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A5

 
Argentina demands ‘Top Gear’ apology from BBC

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

‘S.H.I.E.L.D’ fans push for Coulson/May romance

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7 | Gallery

 
From Kors to DVF, fashion mourns de la Renta

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7 | Gallery

.

Sports

Bruins hold off Sharks to win 5-3

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Local report: Vikings earn 3-0 SCAC volleyball win over Wolves

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

SJS releases season’s first wins list

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Bumgarner, Giants stop Royals 7-1 in Series opener

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

49ers lose center Daniel Kilgore, needs surgery

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Raiders plagued by 3rd-down defensive woes

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

For a young Mexican golf star, seeing helps him believe

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Shaw shoulders blame for Stanford’s slide

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Newman dodges penalty for Talladega inspection

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Logano: No worries about retaliation from Patrick

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Cowboys release Michael Sam from practice squad

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Fighters suing Mayweather over Vegas cable TV bout

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

WS Game 2 starters Ventura, Peavy study in contrasts

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
Hats off! Royals get old-timey with tip o’ the hat

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

KC, San Fran mayors announce World Series wager

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Ezeli returns as Warriors beat Clippers 125-107

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Buster’s back: Posey tries to add 3rd Series ring

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
AP sources: Rice’s appeal hearing set for Nov. 5-6

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Kings GM: NHL should educate after Voynov’s arrest

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Broncos are still No. 1 in AP Pro32 rankings

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9 | Gallery

‘Blade Runner’ Pistorius gets 5 years in prison

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12 | Gallery

 
.

Business

Google’s streaming music service adds mood to mix

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
5 problems McDonald’s is facing in the US

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

New efforts to ban tobacco farm child labor

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
Total CEO killed in Moscow runway crash

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

China economy grows at slowest pace in 5 years

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
.

Obituaries

Rufina Ferrer Levengood

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6