Obama to sign $16.3B veterans spending bill

Obama to sign $16.3B veterans spending bill

VETERANS AFFAIRS: Attendees pray during the invocation at the opening of the National Order of the Purple Heart National Convention in Denver, Tuesday, Aug. 5. U.S. Veterans Administration Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson says more employees will be disciplined as the department sorts out a scandal over long waits for health care and falsified data. Photo: Associated Press/Brennan Linsley

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama will travel to a military facility outside Washington on Thursday to sign a $16.3 billion plan to ease health care delays at Veterans Affairs facilities as he seeks to restore confidence in an agency tarnished by the problem.

The legislation, passed just before Congress left for summer recess, is intended to clear months-long wait lists for healthcare appointments at VA hospitals and clinics. News that the agency was covering up the delays led to the ouster of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki in May.

The measure contains $10 billion in new emergency spending and allows veterans to use private doctors at the department’s expense if they cannot get an appointment in less than 30 days.

A senior administration official said new leadership at the VA has accelerated veterans’ access to care but acknowledged that more work needs to be done.

“Over the past several months the American people have been rightly outraged by stories of misconduct at some VA facilities across the country,” a senior administration official said.

Actions by Congress and newly confirmed Veterans’ Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald are a good start, the official said in an email. McDonald is due to travel to Phoenix to tour facilities that were at the center of the scandal, the official added.

McDonald “has truly hit the ground running,” the official said.

(Reporting By Mark Felsenthal; Editing by Bernard Orr)

Recent Headlines

in Entertainment

WHAT’S ON: New on Netflix, Amazon & Hulu in December


Get your remotes ready for a new round of binge-worthy movies and TV.

in Music

Joey Feek holds out hope of beating cancer


The country singer was diagnosed with cervical cancer last year and she was admitted to a hospice earlier this month to be cared for during her final days.

in Entertainment

Ice-T and Coco welcome daughter Chanel Nicole


Rapper and "Law & Order" star Ice-T and wife Nicole 'Coco' Austin welcomed their first child together on Saturday.

in Entertainment, Lifestyle

Amazon drone delivery is much closer to reality


Amazon has unveiled what its unmanned drones for package delivery would look like with a video launched on the prototype of technology it announced two years ago.

in Entertainment

With “Star Wars” movie due to land, old toys go galactic


Vintage toys linked to the "Star Wars" film franchise are moving faster than a swirling lightsaber, sending prices of many of them soaring into hyperspace.