After VA Scandal, Senate To Take Up New Bill

June 2, 2014 by staff 

After VA Scandal, Senate To Take Up New Bill, A refashioned bill to address problems plaguing the Veterans Affairs Department is on a “fast track” for consideration by the full Senate this month, according to the chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has scheduled a hearing Thursday on a bill to give the VA authority to immediately remove senior executives based on poor job performance while preventing “wholesale political firings” that Sanders said could be allowed under a similar bill approved by the House.

The Senate bill also would allow veterans who can’t get timely appointments with VA doctors to go to community health centers, military hospitals or private doctors and would authorize VA to lease 27 new health facilities in 18 states.

The bill comes amid growing evidence of patient delays and cover-ups at VA hospitals and clinics nationwide that led to the resignation last week of former Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki. 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.

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