Delegates from the House and Senate have reportedly reached a deal on a bill that will finally fix the mess that has plagued the Department of Veterans Affairs' healthcare system. Over the weekend, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Jeff Miller, a Republican from Florida, were said to have ironed out the deal, the details of which will be announced tomorrow.
For now, here's what we know about the deal. From the Times:
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and nurses; build or lease dozens of additional buildings needed to treat patients; and upgrade the department’s outdated scheduling system.
As we noted last week, it was thought that the issue might have to wait until after August when Congress returns from its five-week recess, which begins on Friday. The two lawmakers had introduced rival plans before ultimately deciding to work together.
The VA scandal first ignited following the revelation of secret patient waiting lists at a number of VA facilities. The delivery of bonuses to VA executives certainly didn't help. The resulting outcry ultimately led to the resignation of Secretary for Veterans Affairs Gen. Eric Shinseki earlier this summer. Last month, President Obama named former Proctor and Gamble chief Bob McDonald to take over the department.