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U.S. lawmakers reach tentative deal on veteran health care revamp

AP

The chairmen of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs committees have reached a tentative deal on a plan to fix a veterans’ health care system scandalized by long patient wait times and falsified records covering up delays.

Republican Rep. Jeff Miller and independent Sen. Bernie Sanders scheduled a news conference for Monday to discuss a compromise plan to improve veterans’ care.

Sanders proposed a bill last week that would cost about $25 billion over three years. Miller countered with a plan to approve $10 billion in emergency spending, with a promise of further spending under congressional budget process.

The plan set to be announced Monday is intended to “make VA more accountable and to help the department recruit more doctors, nurses and other health care professionals,” Miller and Sanders said.

An updated audit by the VA this month showed that about 10 percent of veterans seeking medical care at VA hospitals and clinics still have to wait at least 30 days for an appointment. About 46,000 veterans have had to wait at least three months for initial appointments, the report said, while a further 7,000 veterans who asked for appointments over the past decade never got them.