06 26 2016
  12:14 pm  
     •     
read latest

breaking news

President Obama and Sen. Bernie Sanders

PHOTO: President Barack Obama embraces Senate Veterans' Affairs Chairman Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., as he visits Fort Belvoir, Va., an Army base 20 miles south of Washington, to highlight efforts to help veterans have an easier time getting health care, Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014. Obama signed into law the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014, a bill providing the Department of Veterans Affairs the resources to improve access and quality of care for veterans. Sen. Sanders led the bipartisan effort on the bill. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Veterans are expected to have an easier time getting government-paid health care from local doctors under a bill that President Barack Obama is set to sign into law Thursday.

The $16.3 billion measure also allows the Veterans Affairs Department to hire thousands of doctors, nurses and other health professionals at the VA's nearly 1,000 hospitals and outpatient clinics nationwide.

Under the new law, employment rules will be revised to make it easier to fire senior VA executives judged to be negligent or performing poorly.

Obama is traveling to Fort Belvoir, Virginia, an Army base 20 miles south of Washington, to sign the bill. Congress approved the measure last week before taking a five-week recess — one of the few significant bills approved this year by both the House and the Senate.

The legislation is a response to reports of veterans dying while awaiting appointments to see VA doctors and of a widespread practice of employees covering up monthslong wait times for appointments. In some cases, employees received bonuses based on falsified records.

"No veteran should have to wait to receive the benefits they have earned," said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.

The veterans bill, approved with strong bipartisan support, "will put in place reforms and needed additional resources to meet the high standard of service that our veterans have earned," Earnest said.

The bill devotes $10 billion in emergency spending over three years to pay private doctors and other health professionals to care for qualifying veterans who can't get timely appointments at VA hospitals or clinics or who live more than 40 miles from one of them. It includes $5 billion for hiring more VA doctors, nurses and other medical staff and $1.3 billion to open 27 new VA clinics across the country.

The VA has taken "aggressive steps" in recent months to address systemic problems found in its health care system, Earnest said, adding that reform measures will continue and accelerate under new VA Secretary Robert McDonald.

McDonald, a former Procter & Gamble CEO, was sworn in July 30 to lead the sprawling agency, which employs more than 310,000 people and provides health care for nearly 9 million enrolled veterans and disability compensation for nearly 4 million veterans.

The VA announced last week that it planned to fire two supervisors and discipline four other employees in Colorado and Wyoming accused of falsifying health care data.

Deputy Veterans Affairs Secretary Sloan Gibson said more VA employees will be disciplined as the agency tries to root out the causes of a scandal that he said has breached the trust between veterans and the agency created to serve them.

Gibson, who served as acting secretary for two months after Eric Shinseki resigned as VA secretary, has vowed to protect employees who file whistleblower complaints — a promise McDonald has echoed since taking office. Any intimidation or retaliation against employees who raise concerns will not be tolerated, they said.

___

Follow Matthew Daly on Twitter: https://twitter.com/MatthewDalyWDC

Recently Published by The Skanner News

  • Default
  • Title
  • Date
  • Random
  • ST. LOUIS (AP) — A draft of the Democratic Party's policy positions reflects the influence of Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign: endorsing steps to break up large Wall Street banks, advocating a $15 hourly wage, urging an end to the death penalty. Hillary Clinton's supporters turned back efforts by Sanders' allies to promote a Medicare-for-all single-payer health care system and a carbon tax to address climate change, and freeze hydraulic fracking. While the platform does not bind the Democratic nominee to the stated positions, it serves as a guidepost for the party moving forward. Party officials approved the draft early Saturday. The Democratic National Convention's full Platform Committee will discuss the draft at a meeting next month in Orlando, Florida, with a vote at the convention in Philadelphia in late July. Sanders said Friday he would vote for Clinton, the presumptive nominee, in the fall election, but so far has stopped short of fully endorsing the former secretary of state or encouraging his millions of voters to back her candidacy. The Vermont senator has said he wants the platform to reflect his goals — and those representing him at a St. Louis hotel said they had made progress. "We lost some but we won some," said James Zogby, a Sanders supporter on the committee. "We got some great stuff in the platform that has never been in there before." Added Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., a Sanders ally: "We've made some substantial moves forward." Deliberating late into Friday, the group considered language on the Israel-Palestinian conflict, an issue that has divided Democrats. The committee defeated an amendment led by Zogby that would have called for providing Palestinians with "an end to occupation and illegal settlements" and urged an international effort to rebuild Gaza. The draft reflects Clinton's views and advocates working toward a "two-state solution of the Israel-Palestinian conflict" that guarantees Israel's security with recognized borders "and provides the Palestinians with independence, sovereignty, and dignity." In many cases, Clinton's side gave ground to Sanders. The document calls for the expansion of Social Security and says Americans should earn at least $15 an hour, referring to the current minimum wage of $7.25 an hour as a "starvation wage," a term often used by Sanders. Sanders has pushed for a $15-an-hour minimum wage. Clinton has supported efforts to raise the minimum wage to that level but has said states and cities should raise the bar as high as possible. Sanders' allies wanted the draft to specify calls for a $15 per hour minimum wage indexed with inflation. Clinton's side struck down a direct link, noting the document elsewhere included a call to "raise and index the minimum wage." The committee also adopted language that said it supports ways to prevent banks from gambling with taxpayers' bank deposits, "including an updated and modernized version of Glass-Steagall." Sanders wants to reinstate the Depression-era Glass-Steagall Act, which prohibited commercial banks from engaging in investment banking activities. Clinton does not, but says her proposed financial changes would cast a wider net by regulating the banking system. Also in the draft is a call for the abolition of the death penalty. Clinton said during a debate this year that capital punishment should only be used in limited cases involving "heinous crimes." Sanders said the government should not use it. Sanders, a vociferous opponent of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, was unable to get language into the document opposing the trade deal. As a result, the party avoided an awkward scenario that would have put the platform at odds with President Barack Obama. Clinton and Sanders have opposed the deal. Committee members backed a measure that said "there are a diversity of views in the party" on the pact and reaffirmed that Democrats contend any trade deal "must protect workers and the environment." In a setback for Sanders, the panel narrowly rejected amendments that would have imposed a tax on carbon and imposed a national freeze on fracking. The panel deliberated for about nine hours following several late nights and long hours of policy exchanges between the two campaigns and the Democratic National Committee. Sanders, in a statement, said he was "disappointed and dismayed" that the group voted down the measure opposing the TPP. But he was pleased with the proposals on Glass-Steagall and the death penalty — and vowed to fight on. "Our job is to pass the most progressive platform in the history of the Democratic Party," he said.
    Read More
  • VIDEO: Watch Columbia Riverkeeper argue trains are unsafe    
    Read More
  • VIDEO: Vermont senator says he will vote for Clinton if she wins nomination                  
    Read More
  • Nearly half of advisory panel members have ties to drug companies      
    Read More
load morehold SHIFT key to load allload all
Carpentry Professionals
Calendar

PHOTO GALLERY

Wake of Vanport Workshop

Hood to Coast 2016