Tags: john mccain | veterans | health | senate | legislation

McCain: VA Healthcare Bill Can Pass Divided Senate

By    |   Tuesday, 03 Jun 2014 09:06 PM

Sen. John McCain said on Tuesday that legislation he and three other Republicans introduced on Tuesday to give veterans more flexibility to see private doctors if they are forced to wait too long for an appointment at a VA clinic can pass a deeply partisan Senate.

"If we don't come to some agreement, shame on us and shame on the Congress of the United States," the Arizona senator told Newsmax in an interview. "We should be sitting down now and having discussions and negotiations."

The Veterans Choice Act was also sponsored by Sens. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Richard Burr of North Carolina, and Jeff Flake of Arizona.

The bill follows last week's interim report by the VA inspector general that found about 1,700 veterans needing care in the troubled Phoenix VA Healthcare System were "at risk of being lost or forgotten" after being kept off electronic waiting lists.

The inquiry, which found average wait times of 115 days for a first visit in Phoenix, has since spread to 42 VA medical centers nationwide. The report led to the resignation of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki on Friday.

The VA is the nation's largest healthcare system, serving about 6.5 million veterans each year.

"This is a serious problem," McCain told Newsmax of the disastrously long wait times.

"The problems will continue until we fix it. We have an obligation to the brave people who have served this nation to fix it as quickly as possible. That means in a bipartisan fashion."

Under the proposed legislation, the VA's 150 hospitals would be required to publish on their websites the current wait times for appointments, and the agency would have to establish a public database of patient safety, quality of care and outcomes at each hospital.

Veterans who can't get an appointment within 30 days or who live at least 40 miles from a VA clinic or hospital could go to any doctor who participates in Medicare or the military's healthcare program.

The bill also includes the VA Management Accountability Act, which the House passed last week and gives the VA secretary the authority to demote or fire senior executive employees based on performance.

"By giving veterans a choice, you are over time reducing the size of the bureaucracy," McCain said. "When a veteran goes and gets the healthcare provider of his or her choice, that's not the VA — and, over time, the VA will grow smaller."

In the House, Florida Rep. Jeff Miller, chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee, is crafting a bill that would require the VA to offer outside care to veterans who cannot be seen within 30 days.

In addition, Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent who chairs the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, has proposed a bill to pay for veterans' appointments at community health centers and military hospitals or with private doctors if they cannot get a timely appointment at a VA center.

Looking to the possibility of any debate on the Republican bill on the senate floor, McCain acknowledged that the biggest obstacle that remained was Majority Leader Harry Reid.

"The best thing to do would be for Harry Reid to bring whatever bill he wants to the floor — and for us to amend, debate, have votes — to come out with the best product we can from the United States Senate," he said. "That is the way the senate should work.

"Now, the question is, will Harry Reid allow such a process."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

© 2017 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

 
1Like our page
2Share
US
Sen. John McCain said on Tuesday that legislation he and three other Republicans introduced on Tuesday to give veterans more flexibility to see private doctors if they are forced to wait too long for an appointment at a VA clinic can pass a deeply partisan Senate.
john mccain, veterans, health, senate, legislation
582
2014-06-03
Tuesday, 03 Jun 2014 09:06 PM
Newsmax Inc.
 

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

NEWSMAX.COM
America's News Page
© Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved