House and Senate negotiators reached agreement during the weekend on a legislative package intended to stabilize the Department of Veterans Affairs’ sprawling and embattled health care system, according to people briefed on the deal.
The leaders in the negotiations — Senator Bernard Sanders, a Vermont independent, and Representative Jeff Miller, a Florida Republican — plan to outline the agreement at a news conference Monday afternoon.
The legislation is expected to include provisions for emergency relief that would allow veterans who live far from a V.A. facility or who face wait times that exceed a certain duration to see private doctors, and have those visits paid for by the government. The measure is also expected to set aside billions of dollars to hire new doctors and nurses; build or lease dozens of additional buildings needed to treat patients; and upgrade the department’s outdated scheduling system.
While the V.A. enjoys a generally good reputation for the quality of its health care, a combination of factors — including a shortage of doctors and nurses, unrealistic goals to see patients within 14 days, and perverse performance and bonus incentives for managers — led to the widespread manipulation of patient wait-time data, which blew up into a national scandal this spring. New York Times 7-27-14
But hey, it works, right? All it needs is few billion more, never mind rethinking who and how it provides health care and for what reasons.