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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Veterans Health-Care Bill Caught in Dispute Over Funding

Veterans medical benefits are stymied in Congress for financial reasons. This may intensify the concern for reimbursement from responsible primary payers. Today's post is shared from

Both parties in the U.S. Congress want to reduce patients’ waiting times at Veterans Affairs hospitals. They split over how to fund the billions of dollars in added costs.

Republicans want the new spending to be offset by cuts elsewhere in the U.S. budget, while the Democratic-controlled Senate calls it emergency funding.

Lawmakers also are having sticker shock over a preliminary estimate that the plan would cost $35 billion to $44 billion over the next five years.

“The House wants to pay for it,” House Veterans Affairs Chairman Jeff Miller said yesterday as a House-Senate conference committee met in Washington to begin reconciling the chambers’ competing VA health-care bills.

“We want to try to find the offsets necessary to pay for the legislation,” said Miller, a Florida Republican. “That’s not going to be an easy task, but it’s one that we’re committed to looking fully at over the next several days.”

Reports that VA hospitals hid months-long waiting lists of patients trying to see doctors led VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign in May. An audit released June 9 showed that more than 120,000 veterans hadn’t received an appointment or were currently waiting longer than 90 days for care.

The FBI has begun a criminal investigation into VA hospital delays.

Some Republicans say they don’t believe the $44 billion cost estimate by the Congressional Budget Office, Congress’s non-partisan scorekeeper.
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