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Highlights of House, Senate veterans bills

By From page A10 | June 11, 2014

A comparison of House and Senate legislation aimed at improving medical care for Department of Veterans Affairs patients:

House bill:

—Requires VA to pay for outside medical care for veterans unable to get prompt treatment from the agency or who live at least 40 miles from a VA facility. This would last two years.

—Prohibits bonuses for all VA employees through 2016.

—Requires independent assessment of VA health programs and obliges agency to report to Congress on how it implements audit recommendations.

—Complements earlier House-passed bill making it easier for VA secretary to fire agency officials.

Senate bill:

—Requires VA to pay for outside medical care for veterans unable to get prompt treatment from the agency or who live at least 40 miles from a VA facility. This would last two years.

—Bars VA from awarding bonuses to employees for meeting goals for prompt scheduling of patients’ appointments — a practice investigators say led some officials to create phony wait lists.

—Makes it easier for VA secretary to fire or demote agency officials.

—Lets VA enter leases for 26 major medical facilities in 17 states and Puerto Rico.

—Gives VA 60 days to create disciplinary procedures for workers who knowingly falsify wait-time data; requires agency to publish goals for wait times for appointments and actual wait times at each VA medical center.

—Expands sexual trauma services and requires reports on domestic abuse in veterans’ households.

—Lets agency more quickly fill medical jobs with greatest shortages.

—Bars VA education benefits for veterans attending public institutions unless those schools charge veterans in-state tuition.

Note: House bill is HR 4810, Senate bill is S 2450.

 

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

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