June 10, 2014
The House has overwhelmingly approved legislation to allow patients facing long waits for care at Veterans Affairs facilities to get VA-paid treatment from local doctors.
On Monday, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine joined U.S. Senators Bernie Sanders, John McCain, Jeff Merkley, and Richard Burr to introduce The Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014.
Congress voted 421-0 in favor of the bill on Tuesday, June 10.
The bill will allow veterans to see private doctors outside the VA system if they experience long wait times or live more than 40 miles from a VA facility for a two year period, provide the VA Secretary authority to immediately dismiss poorly performing administrators and employees who manipulated wait-time data, and help the VA swiftly hire staff to decrease the scheduling backlog.
The bill is similar to a broader measure that the Senate plans to debate soon.
The action comes with the VA reeling from growing evidence that workers fabricated data on veterans' waits for medical appointments in an effort to mask frequent, long delays.
A VA audit this week showed that more than 57,000 new patients waited at least three months for initial appointments.