U.S. House Votes to Ensure Speedier Care for Vets

The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that makes it easier for patients to receive VA-paid treatment from their local doctors as a way to combat the longer waits for care at Veterans Affairs facilities.

The U.S. House overwhelmingly approved legislation Tuesday to make it easier for patients enduring long waits for care at Veterans Affairs facilities to get VA-paid treatment from local doctors.

The 421-0 vote was Congress' strongest response yet to the outcry over backlogs and falsified data at the beleaguered agency. Senate leaders plan debate soon on a similar, broader package that has also drawn bipartisan support, underscoring how politically toxic it could be for lawmakers to be seen as ignoring the problem.

The controversy led Eric Shinseki to resign as head of the VA on May 30, but the situation remains a continuing embarrassment for President Barack Obama and a potential political liability for congressional Democrats seeking re-election in November.

The VA, which serves almost 9 million veterans, has been reeling from mounting evidence that workers fabricated statistics on patients' waits for medical appointments in an effort to mask frequent, long delays. A VA audit this week showed that more than 57,000 new applicants for care have had to wait at least three months for initial appointments.

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Source: Modern Healthcare