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Highlights of House, Senate veterans bills

Thursday - 6/12/2014, 4:33am  ET

The Associated Press

A comparison of House and Senate legislation aimed at improving medical care for Veterans Affairs patients:

HOUSE BILL

--Requires VA to pay for outside medical care for veterans unable to get prompt treatment from the agency or who live at least 40 miles from a VA facility. This would last two years.

--Prohibits bonuses for all VA employees through 2016.

--Requires independent assessment of VA health programs and obliges agency to report to Congress on how it implements audit recommendations.

--Complements earlier House-passed bill making it easier for VA secretary to fire agency officials.

SENATE BILL

--Requires VA to pay for outside medical care for veterans unable to get prompt treatment from the agency or who live at least 40 miles from a VA facility. This would last two years.

--Bars VA from awarding bonuses to employees for meeting goals for prompt scheduling of patients' appointments -- a practice investigators say led some officials to create phony wait lists.

--Makes it easier for VA secretary to fire or demote agency officials.

--Lets VA enter leases for 26 major medical facilities in 17 states and Puerto Rico.

--Gives VA 60 days to create disciplinary procedures for workers who knowingly falsify wait-time data; requires agency to publish goals for wait times for appointments and actual wait times at each VA medical center.

--Expands sexual trauma services and requires reports on domestic abuse in veterans' households.

--Lets agency more quickly fill medical jobs with greatest shortages.

--Bars VA education benefits for veterans attending public institutions unless those schools charge veterans in-state tuition.

Note: House bill is HR 4810, Senate bill is S 2450.


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