Senate to take up new VA bill after scandal

by By DINA CAPPIELLO Associated Press

alt

Sen. Bernie Sanders says he plans to introduce a bill this week that will address the problems uncovered in treatment programs at veterans hospitals and clinics. While people who lied must be punished, “we need to get to the root causes,” he said.


WASHINGTON (AP) - Details of a refashioned bill to address the problems plaguing the federally run veterans' health care system were released Sunday by its sponsor, the chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont Independent, posted a summary of his bill Sunday and said it would be introduced this week.

The bill includes several new provisions aimed at fixing the long delays for veterans' care. The long-simmering issue erupted into a scandal in April and led to last week's resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki after a federal investigation into the troubled Phoenix VA Health Care System found that about 1,700 veterans in need of care were "at risk of being lost or forgotten" after being kept off an official waiting list.

The investigation also found broad and deep-seated problems throughout the sprawling health care system, which provides medical care to about 6.5 million veterans annually.

Sanders said in a statement issued Sunday that while the people who have lied or manipulated data must be punished, "we also need to get to the root causes of the problems that have been exposed."

The bill would allow veterans facing long delays to seek care outside the VA, at private doctors' offices, military bases or community health centers. It also authorizes emergency funding to hire new doctors and nurses and would provide scholarships or forgive college loans for doctors and nurses who go to work at the VA. In addition, it would give the department authority to fire poor-performing executives, but not as broadly as a bill passed in the House and defeated in the Senate last month.

An earlier version of Sanders' bill did not have enough support to pass in February.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said Sunday that the key to fixing the problem was giving veterans the flexibility to get the care they need at the closest, most available place.

"And that's the solution to this problem is flexibility to the veteran to choose their health care, just like other people under other health care plans have the - are able to do," McCain, a Vietnam veteran, said on CBS' Face the Nation. "Why doesn't that veteran have a card and go to the caregiver that he or she needs and wants?"

The VA spent about $4.8 billion last year on medical care at non-VA hospitals and clinics. That amounts to about 10 percent of health care costs for the Veterans Health Administration.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Read more: http://www.myfoxatlanta.com/story/25664672/senate-to-take-up-new-va-bill-after-scandal#ixzz33Tt7Cfjc Follow us: @FOX5Atlanta on Twitter | FOX5Atlanta on Facebook



More Local

Two suspects arrested in homicides

Two suspects have been arrested and charged in Monday's double homicide on Widgeon Trail. Kenya Nneaka Sewell, 26, and Jarico Deshun Brown, ... Read More


Family, friends: Defendant is sleepwalker

Day four of the trial of Benjamin Tyler Gray for the alleged rape of a woman in Senoia saw his defense team call a DNA expert to the stand T ... Read More


Senoia Council

‘Walking Dead’ fence has to come down

The chain-link fence that has provided secure parking and storage for equipment used in the filming of “The Walking Dead” in dow ... Read More


Parent/Teacher Conferences

Ruth Hill to implement new model

Ruth Hill Elementary School was recently selected as one of 10 schools in Georgia to implement Academic Parent Teacher Teams, a new parent-t ... Read More


Defense draws judge’s ire in rape case

The trial of a Newnan man indicted for rape continued in Coweta County Superior Court early Monday. Attorneys were able to hear the testimon ... Read More

Rape Trial

Connections, memories part of testimony

Three witnesses were called to testify in Monday afternoon’s session of the trial of Benjamin Tyler Gray, 29, accused of rape after an ... Read More