A bipartisan bill that expands the ability of veterans to get medical treatment outside of Veterans Affairs facilities moved one step closer to becoming law Thursday when a bipartisan group of U.S. senators agreed on a framework for the legislation, reports the Associated Press.
Despite their political differences, Senate leaders had the same goal in mind: to put an end to outrageous waiting times endured by military veterans at health care facilities throughout the nation.
The AP reported the bill would expand veterans' ability to be treated through government-paid medical care outside VA hospitals and clinics. If a veteran lives 40 miles or more from a VA clinic, he or she would be able to see private doctors who are enrolled in Medicare or other government programs.
The news hasn’t officially been confirmed yet, but it appears Senate Veterans Affairs Chairman Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., ranking member Richard Burr, R-N.C., and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., were able to come to an agreement.
Before the agreement was apparently reached, McCain said, “I want the veteran to make the choice,” according to Politico. “There are many, many concerns.”
On Wednesday, Sanders said he hoped to immediately fix the problems with VA. "I hope we will address the very serious problems,” Sanders said, via Politico. “The issue is waiting times, the issue is how do we make sure that every veteran in this country can get in to a VA facility in a reasonable period of time. And if they can’t, what do they do? Do they go to private doctors, do they go to other medical providers? We’ve got to work out the details.”
Sanders has said the country “has a crisis on our hands,” a belief many people hold after reports surfaced that veterans died while waiting to see VA doctors.
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