Showing rare bipartisan spirit,
In the House on Tuesday, members voted 421-0 to allow veterans who languish on waiting lists or who aren't near a
It incorporates a provision first suggested by Sen.
An internal VA audit released Monday showed more than 57,000 veterans were waiting to be scheduled for care. Nearly 64,000 former service members signed up for VA health care and had not seen a doctor. It covered 731 medical facilities and offered the first nationwide picture of the veterans' health network in the wake of reports two months ago that VA patients in Phoenix died waiting for an appointment.
New patients at the
The VA medical center in
"The Salem numbers are acceptable," Kaine said. "But both the Hampton and Richmond numbers are more than they should be."
Kaine said he didn't want to speculate about whether the Virginia problems were caused by lack of resources, management problems or a rising caseload.
The audit flagged the Richmond VA and a clinic in Virginia Beach for further investigation. The clinic is run under the umbrella of the Hampton VA, but the Hampton medical center itself was not targeted for further review.
The Senate bill is the result of negotiations between two men who are ideologically on opposite ends of the spectrum: Sen.
Warner's idea of allowing private sector help is drawing interest from the
The Senate may vote on the bill this week.
Meanwhile, acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson said Tuesday that the agency will meet with private health care industry leaders to discuss best practices and policies for scheduling patients.
"Our top priority is to get our veterans off wait lists and into clinics," he said.
Kaine said he's pleased with Gibson's performance in the interim. Gibson stepped in when former VA Secretary