Agreement Reached on VA Reform Bill

? Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), the heads of the Senate and House Veterans’ Affairs Committees, respectively, on Monday announced that House and Senate conferees have agreed on VA reform legislation. “This bill makes certain that we address the immediate crisis of veterans being forced onto long waiting lists for health care,” said Sanders in a statement. “It strengthens the VA so that it will be able to hire the doctors, nurses, and medical personnel it needs so we can permanently put an end to the long waiting lists,” he added. Veterans’ health care needs to be considered a cost of war and funded as emergency spending, said Sanders. To that end, the bill contains $15 billion in emergency spending, including $10 billion for enabling veterans who live more than 40 miles away from a VA facility to seek outside care and $5 billion for hiring more doctors and staff and for upgrades at existing VA facilities. Among its other provisions, the bill promises to improve delivery of care for those who experienced sexual trauma while in uniform and extends housing for veterans struggling with traumatic brain injury. (See also Sanders release.)