On Thursday, August 7, 2014 President Obama signed a $16.3 billion bill to overhaul the troubled Department of Veterans Affairs.
The Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014 is widely expected to address many of the problems that surfaced this spring regarding veterans’ access to medical care at VA facilities nationwide.
The $17 billion measure is intended help veterans avoid long waits for health care, hire more doctors and nurses to treat them, and make it easier to fire senior executives at the Veterans Affairs Department.
The measure includes $10 billion in emergency spending to help veterans who can’t get prompt appointments with VA doctors to obtain outside care; $5 billion to hire doctors, nurses and other medical staff; and about $1.5 billion to lease 27 new clinics across the country.
The measure would require the VA to pay private doctors to treat qualifying veterans who can’t get prompt appointments at the VA’s nearly 1,000 hospitals and outpatient clinics, or those who live at least 40 miles from one of them. Only veterans who are enrolled in VA care as of Aug. 1 or live at least 40 miles away would be eligible to get outside care.