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

Drug suspect seeks refuge at home of off-duty officer

When fleeing from the police, make sure you don’t unknowingly try and get help from an off-duty police officer. But that’s what ... Read More


Communication breaks down in Grantville

Monday’s Grantville City Council meeting was almost over before it even started. Council Member Barham Lundy called for the meeting to ... Read More


Sells to seek re-election

Grantville Mayor Jim Sells has officially qualified to run for a second term as mayor of Grantville. His qualifying Monday comes less than o ... Read More


Persons of interest sought in slaying

The Meriwether County Sheriff’s Office and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation are still investigating a slaying that occurred in Meri ... Read More


Woman tries to slip marijuana to inmate

A woman was arrested Saturday after authorities at the Coweta County Jail caught her attempting to pass marijuana and tobacco along to an in ... Read More

Man arrested for hiding LSD in shoe

After two men charged with the possession of marijuana were transported to the Coweta County Jail Friday, authorities discovered one of them ... Read More