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 Black Friday, National

PHOTOS: Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

AP353037153391_2

The 88th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade stepped off in NYC, officially ushering in the holiday season.

in National

Thanksgiving grease cooks up plumbing disasters

turkey

Thanksgiving is a royal pain in the U.S. drain.

in National

Ebola survivors thankful for ‘second chance’

ebola

Six of the nine Ebola patients treated in the U.S. met for the first time.

in National

Thanksgiving travel at a 7-year high

gas

More than 46 million Americans are expected to travel over the holiday weekend.

in Black Friday, National

History of the holiday: Thanksgiving

14-overlay1

Thanksgiving celebrations date back to the first European settlements in America, but it wasn't until the 1860s that it was declared a national holiday.