Senators Reach Deal on VA Health Care - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

Senators Reach Deal on VA Health Care

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Senior senators have reached an agreement on a bipartisan bill expanding veterans' ability to get government-paid medical care outside Veterans Affairs hospitals and clinics.
 
The framework agreement was announced Thursday on the Senate floor by Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona.
 
Sanders, an Independent, said the country, in his words, "right now ... has a crisis on our hands."
 
The bill would allow veterans who experience long waits for VA appointments or who live at least 40 miles from a VA hospital or clinic to use private doctors enrolled as providers for Medicare or other government programs.
 
The bill's goal is to address an uproar over veterans' health care following reports veterans have died while waiting to see a VA doctor.
 
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama's choice to be the top health official at the Veterans Affairs Department has withdrawn his nomination.
 
Jeffrey Murawsky says he fears trying to win his Senate confirmation could spark a prolonged political battle.
 
Murawsky is now a regional director for the VA health network and works out of Chicago. He was nominated last month to be VA's undersecretary for health care, replacing Robert Petzel, who resigned under pressure. Petzel had been scheduled to retire later this year, but was asked to leave early amid a firestorm over long patient waits at VA hospitals and clinics and covering up the delays.
 
The White House said Obama has accepted Murawsky's withdrawal and will move quickly to find a replacement. A commission reviews candidates for the position.  (AP)
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