News

Obama to sign $16.3B veterans spending bill

Obama to sign $16.3B veterans spending bill

VETERANS AFFAIRS: Attendees pray during the invocation at the opening of the National Order of the Purple Heart National Convention in Denver, Tuesday, Aug. 5. U.S. Veterans Administration Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson says more employees will be disciplined as the department sorts out a scandal over long waits for health care and falsified data. Photo: Associated Press/Brennan Linsley

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama will travel to a military facility outside Washington on Thursday to sign a $16.3 billion plan to ease health care delays at Veterans Affairs facilities as he seeks to restore confidence in an agency tarnished by the problem.

The legislation, passed just before Congress left for summer recess, is intended to clear months-long wait lists for healthcare appointments at VA hospitals and clinics. News that the agency was covering up the delays led to the ouster of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki in May.

The measure contains $10 billion in new emergency spending and allows veterans to use private doctors at the department’s expense if they cannot get an appointment in less than 30 days.

A senior administration official said new leadership at the VA has accelerated veterans’ access to care but acknowledged that more work needs to be done.

“Over the past several months the American people have been rightly outraged by stories of misconduct at some VA facilities across the country,” a senior administration official said.

Actions by Congress and newly confirmed Veterans’ Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald are a good start, the official said in an email. McDonald is due to travel to Phoenix to tour facilities that were at the center of the scandal, the official added.

McDonald “has truly hit the ground running,” the official said.

(Reporting By Mark Felsenthal; Editing by Bernard Orr)

Recent Headlines

in National

U.S. Secret Service directior resigns

The White House seen from outside the north lawn fence in Washington

Julia Pierson has resigned amid security lapses at the White House.

in National

Rhode Island child with Enterovirus dies

cdc

A child hospitalized for less than 24 hours with Enterovirus D68 has died from the bacterial infection.

in National

U.S. experts hunt for Ebola exposure after first case

cdc

Experts are monitoring "a handful" of people potentially exposed through physical contact with the first patient diagnosed with the deadly virus in the U.S.

in Local

Vermont Yankee Closing Could Cost $1-Billion

VT Yankee

We should know by the end of October how much it will cost to close the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant

in Local

UMass Police Suspend Confidential Informant Program

UMass Amherst

UMass campus police have suspended their confidential informant program after last week's "Boston Globe" article about a student who died of an overdose last year