Congress Sends VA Overhaul Bill that Allows Veterans to Seek Care Outside of the VA to White House

 

In a rare show of bipartisanship Congress sent a $17 billion landmark bill to President Obama that will help U.S. veterans avoid long waits for health care within the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). There was overwhelming support in both the Senate (91-3) and House (unanimous) for the bill, which will provide $10 billion in emergency spending over the next three years to allow veterans to seek care from private doctors and other health professionals due to delays in the VA system.

The legislation is a response to reports of veterans dying while awaiting appointments to see VA doctors and cover-ups of the delays at several of the VA's 1,000 hospitals and outpatient clinics.

The bill gives veterans access to private doctors if they could not get an appointment with the VA within 30 days, or if they live more than 40 miles from a VA clinic.

The measure also includes $5 billion for hiring more VA doctors, nurses and other medical staff; and another $1.3 billion to open 27 new VA clinics across the country. The legislation also makes it easier to fire hospital administrators and senior VA executives for negligence or poor performance.

The California Podiatric Medical Association (CPMA) applauded the move. “The CPMA believes that all Americans should have timely access to health care, especially those who bravely serve, and sacrifice for our country,” said CPMA President Thomas J. Elardo, DPM. “Podiatric physicians and surgeons can and should be a part of the solution to ensure America’s veterans can access the care they need and deserve.”