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 Sports

NFL: Legal process will play role in punishments

nfl

Punishment for players implicated in domestic violence will not be imposed upon arrest but at some point "farther down the process."

in National

Ebola czar starts work, drugmakers launch vaccine drive

ebola

The Obama administration is ramping up its response to the potential spread of the virus.

in National, World

Canadian parliament attacked, soldier fatally shot

canadashooting

A gunman shot a soldier and then entered the country's parliament buildings, with at least 30 shots fired in dramatic scenes in the heart of the Canadian capital.

in National

U.S. farmers battling bugs

harvest

With record harvests depressing prices, farmers are using chemicals that protect stored grain from critters.

in National, World

Jeffrey Fowle, freed from N. Korea, back on American soil

fowle

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry welcomed the release of one of three Americans held in North Korea.