Update: Associated Press
July 28, 2014
WASHINGTON (AP) -- House and Senate negotiators have finally agreed on a compromise plan to fix a veterans' health program scandalized by long patient wait times and falsified records.
The chairmen of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs committees are holding a news conference Monday to unveil a plan expected to authorize billions in emergency spending to lease 27 new clinics, hire more doctors and nurses and make it easier for veterans who can't get prompt appointments with VA doctors to obtain outside care.
An agreement reached Sunday by Republican Rep. Jeff Miller of Florida and independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont comes nearly seven weeks after the House and Senate approved separate bills on veterans health care.
The deal still must be approved by the full House and Senate.
U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs
July 26, 2014
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs Sloan D. Gibson today announced additional actions to improve Veterans’ access to care at the North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System.
In addition to the system-wide actions taken in response to the audit findings and data, Gibson outlined actions to accelerate access to care for Veterans in North Florida and South Georgia:
·The North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System is reaching out to all Veterans identified as "waiting for care" to get them off of wait lists and into clinics for medical appointments – To date, VA has reached out to more than 3,075 Veterans.
·The North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System has created 215 new appointment slots as a one-time surge to accelerate access. Moving forward, 100 new appointment slots will be available per week. This increased capacity was created by expanding clinic hours on weekends and evenings to see patients and by utilizing productivity initiatives.
·Gibson directed that the North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System use temporary staffing measures, along with clinical and administrative support, to ensure these Veterans receive the care they have earned.
·The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) will ensure that $2 million from within VA’s budget specifically to accelerate access to care be made available to the North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System.
·Gibson also directed that the North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System increase the use of established contracts with community partners to schedule Veterans waiting to be seen by a doctor.
Gibson’s visit to the North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System is part of his continuing site visits to VA facilities across the country where he is hearing directly from Veterans and employees about obstacles to providing timely, quality care, and how VA can immediately address them.