Tentative Agreement to Address Troubled VA Healthcare

The chairman of the House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committees, Representative Jeff Miller (R-FL) and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) confirmed today that they have reached a tentative agreement on a $17 billion emergency spending package designed to improve access to the troubled Veterans Affairs health care system.

As it stands now, the agreement provides VA with $10 billion in additional funding to allow veterans to seek private health care providers if they cannot get an appointment with a VA clinic in a timely manner or, if they live more than 40 miles from a VA center. Another $5 billion will be used to recruit more doctors, nurses and improve VA facilities with an extra $1.5 billion going toward the leasing of 27 additional medical facilities in 18 states and Puerto Rico.

AFSA understands that other provisions in the bill require will require VA to improve access to telemedicine; mandate penalties for falsifying data on wait times and quality measures; direct in-state tuition rates for users of GI Bill education benefits, and expand the Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarships to include surviving spouses of members of the Armed Forces who die in the line of duty. The latter two items are key AFSA goals.

Miller and Sanders said they are pleased with the progress thus far and both believe the bill can clear their respective chambers once completed. At the time of this writing, conferees were still hammering out some of the finer details of the agreement. AFSA remains cautiously optimistic that Congress can put closure on the measure soon.

This bulletin was cross-posted from HQAFSA.org, the official website for the Air Force Sergeants Association Headquarters. It has been posted here for your convenience. Visit HQAFSA.org for more updates!

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