House-Senate negotiators approve $17 billion deal to revamp the VA

07/29/2014 1:56 PM

07/29/2014 2:14 PM

House and Senate negotiators late Monday night approved a $17 billion compromise deal to overhaul the Department of Veterans Affairs to better enable VA patients in receiving care in a timely fashion.

Shortly before midnight, the House and Senate conferees signed a committee agreement that contains $5 billion for adding more doctors, nurses and other medical specialists; $10 billion to allow veterans to receive private care if they live 40 miles or more from a VA facility; and authorizes funding for the department to into leases at 27 medical facilities in 18 states and Puerto Rico.

Congressional action on the VA comes in the wake of revelations by whistleblowers about extremely long wait times for veterans to receive care at VA facilities across the country.

‘Planes and tanks and guns are the cost of war,’ said Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. ‘So is taking care of the men and women who use those weapons and fight our battles.’

The House of Representatives and Senate must now vote on the package before Congress adjourns Aug. 1 for its five-week summer recess.

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