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Senator-elect Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is interviewed by a Reuters reporter at Sanders' office in Burlington, Vermont November 28, 2006. Sanders, a 16-year veteran of the House of Representatives who swept 65 percent of the vote in Vermont running as an inde
Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee Chair Bernie Sanders
After being at odds last week, Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee Chair Bernie Sanders and House Veterans' Affairs Committee Chair Jeff Miller have reportedly reached a compromise on VA funding:
According to a summary of the agreement obtained by CQ Roll Call, the negotiators agreed to $15 billion in emergency mandatory spending — $10 billion for a new private care option for veterans and another $5 billion for improvements within the VA, like hiring doctors and nurses and upgrading facilities. That’s $5 billion more than Miller offered on Thursday and about $10 billion less than Sanders sought.

To qualify for the private care option, veterans would have to be experiencing long wait times or be located more than 40 miles from a VA facility. They would be able to access providers who already participate in Medicare. [...]

The compromise legislation also permits the VA secretary to dismiss or downgrade employees in an expedited fashion based on performance or misconduct. It would also prevent wait-time metrics from being used in determining a VA employee’s eligibility for a bonus, and would authorize the VA to enter into 27 major medical facility leases throughout the country.

With Congress itching to get to its August recess, it's likely this will move quickly, with relatively few procedural delays.

Originally posted to Laura Clawson on Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 06:42 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  That's the best outcome we could hope for, I guess (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HM2Viking, elwior, CwV, whl

    Now it's up to the VA secretary to reform the bureaucracy, and take care of our veterans properly.  

  •  While I tend to trust Bernie (23+ / 0-)

    that this is the best deal he could get, once again the Republicans have succeeded in taking a hostage to their ideological agenda.

    Two thirds of the emergency package diverts funds away from the VA system and into private, for profit hands, which is what the "VA scandal" has been about for too many Republicans.

    A short term band aid, a long term step in the wrong direction.

    We can't think our way into a better way of living. We have to live our way into a better way of thinking. Claude AnShin Thomas

    by DaNang65 on Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 07:19:35 AM PDT

    •  Jeebus, DaNang still breathes?! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DaNang65, bobatkinson

      Greetings, my friend!  Many more years!  And, you're right.  As usual.  It is the desire of TeaPubs to "Profitize" everything - including the VA.  F*ck them.  I'm sure Bernie did all he could, but he barely gets much backing from his own party.  I guess we need sixty - 60 - Dems in the Senate before any one of them "feels safe" to do the right thing.  How sad is that?

      Follow Connect! Unite! Act! MeetUp events! For live podcasting of your Event contact winkk to schedule.

      by winkk on Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 09:50:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Hey, wink! (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        winkk, Vetwife, bluenick

        How the hey are ya? One of my teachers always says that as long as you're still breathing there's more right with you than there is wrong with you.

        This time, I'm afraid, it wasn't the Senate. Bernie's bill, which was almost as much as what was needed, and definitely a step in the right direction, made it through the Senate, I believe, 93-3 in the wake of the "VA scandals."

        It's the House. They were willing to let the whole thing die in conference committee. Talk about your death panels! Jeff Miller, the House Veterans Affairs Committee chairman who never saw anything about the VA h couldn't wag a finger at, wouldn't put the money where his mouth is.

        This is a lousy compromise. I'd love to talk to Bernie quietly about what he really thinks.

        We can't think our way into a better way of living. We have to live our way into a better way of thinking. Claude AnShin Thomas

        by DaNang65 on Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 11:29:51 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •   I must (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RubDMC, DaNang65

      agree my advocate friend.. Appears to me that they took a page right out of the Florida VA playbook.. Looks good on paper.. appeases many but no real solution.   I am not that thrilled because they are pulling a tooth and leaving the root.   Miller had all kinds of solutions in the private sector well guess what that has not worked in Florida.
      Maybe Scott will be invited to inspect them all as part of the deal.. Sorry folks.. this is not the package I nor llbear or any of we advocates were looking for, especially concerning the veteran workers.

      The right is about as wrong as it gets and please help veterans ...Thanks ! United Veterans of America

      by Vetwife on Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 12:00:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Some of the budget hawks won't like (13+ / 0-)

    this, and there is an indication in the linked story that Bob Corker, one of the 3 Senators who voted against the Senate bill, was not happy.  He probably will not be able to rustle up enough votes to block and up or down vote on the conference bill.  In the House, however, it will come to how many of the Tealiban want to make an issue of this just before the August recess.  If they are resistant, will Boehner bring to the floor a bill which does not have the support of a majority of the majority?   I think so, but this would just make the Teapartiers even more grumpy.

    Anyone arguing that there's no difference between the parties is a fucking moron who can simply go to hell. -- kos

    by Its the Supreme Court Stupid on Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 07:20:12 AM PDT

  •  More privatization that always costs us more fo... (8+ / 0-)

    More privatization that always costs us more for less. More attacks on overworked workers...Awesome.

    •  Better vets dies than privatize? (7+ / 0-)

      This compromise makes sense.

      Some vets have to travel hours to get to a VA facility.  The compromise says if you are over 40 miles away and experience waits, you can elect to get treatment locally.

      How would you like to be forced to travel 2-3 hours for chemo each week?  Radiation therapy?

      •  I though it was actually pretty interesting. (4+ / 0-)

        One certainly can question the dollar amounts and their allocation, but there are hospitals and doctors all over the country, many of them far more convenient than VA facilities.  

        The VA has some areas of expertise and concern that nobody else can match, but...many needs can as easily be handled by any competent doctor/decent hospital.  I wonder if there always should have been a private component.

        LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

        by dinotrac on Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 07:51:06 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  JJ.. I get what you are saying and for those (0+ / 0-)

        who are that seriously or terminally ill, it is a way for better treament BUT we have had some of this played out in Florida and Florida is a shambles and yes we do know what it is like to travel long distance and fight to get people to give special mode or even decent travel pay BUT for other vet needs.....we get the bill.. Yes even 100 percent total and permanent priority one and we still get some of the bill and it goes right on the credit report and then they start with the lousy record keeping of what the private sector did and screw up even more.....  Those funds will not completely cover private costs and the VA needed all those funds and closer facilities and better transportation.

        The right is about as wrong as it gets and please help veterans ...Thanks ! United Veterans of America

        by Vetwife on Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 12:06:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The private care simply needs better (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          bluenick

          funding and coordination with private providers.

          For instance...

          My wife is on Medicare.  There are deductibles and co-pays. But she purchased a Medicare supplemental plan from AARP/United.

          Under that plan, she never ever pays one cent.  Not one cent for doctor visits or hospitalizations.  Never.

          Every major medical group and hospital is in her network because nearly all of those are part of the Medicare network.

          So, for vets, we simply need to get them into a Medicare-equivalent network - or maybe the same one.  And then we, as a country, need to pay for the supplemental plans.

        •  And thanks to your vet (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Vetwife

          and all other vets who give so much of their lives and hearts to keep this country safe.

          We owe them a debt of gratitude and we owe them a safety net so they never have to worry about medical needs again.

          •  Thank you but vets usually only trust (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            RubDMC

            other vets and they want the no out of pocket expense if they are 100 percent with no insurance.. It is about a promise.   It is like saying...... We will charge you only 80 percent but the soldier knew he or she gave 100 percent on the battlefield.  Maybe they need to just have combat
            facilities for the special needs.  

            Also in states like Florida... the VA IS the best because Scott runs the private sector with his finger in every hospital bed pan.

            The right is about as wrong as it gets and please help veterans ...Thanks ! United Veterans of America

            by Vetwife on Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 12:26:20 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  If Obama or Reid had negotiated this, (6+ / 0-)

    they'd be castigated as 'weak', 'sellouts' and 'neoliberals.' Let's see if we get the same reaction since it was Bernie this time.

    While you dream of Utopia, we're here on Earth, getting things done.

    by GoGoGoEverton on Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 07:37:04 AM PDT

  •  Cruz isn't going to pull a stunt, is he? /nt (0+ / 0-)

    Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
    I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
    —Spike Milligan

    by polecat on Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 07:37:23 AM PDT

  •  Meaningless... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    agnostic

    The House will obstruct it.

  •  Bernie snuck a poison pill in Most of the va fa... (8+ / 0-)

    Bernie snuck a poison pill in

    Most of the va facilities are well along the way to establishing community outpatient clinics at 30 mile intervals....

    Fee base care was already availanle. Sadly the private option will drive costs up for care cost.

    •  The CBOCs are important (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dinotrac, Vetwife

      but I don't know of any that provide much more than primary health care and/or a location for tele health.

      We can't think our way into a better way of living. We have to live our way into a better way of thinking. Claude AnShin Thomas

      by DaNang65 on Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 07:47:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  They are not what most veterans require. Period. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DaNang65

        You are right DaNang.  Specilaity care is not found but in a few CBOC's and then nowhere near the depth of service gotten at the Medical Center.

        The right is about as wrong as it gets and please help veterans ...Thanks ! United Veterans of America

        by Vetwife on Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 12:09:28 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I agree (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DaNang65

        Primary care should be done close to home. If the CBOC's aren't there that lays more avenues for the GOP to try for their insurance card proposal. Its far better to have the CBOCs decentralize care. The bigger battle to fight there is to limit contracting out of clinic operations to sterling medical etc.

        The mother ships should handle specialty care.

  •  Unfortunate a variety of the privatization (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wsexson, Betty Pinson, a2nite, hbk, bluenick

    abomination is in, but Bernie did good by limiting it. Overall, considering congress limitations, he gets a cookie.

  •  better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick (7+ / 0-)


    good work Bernie.  I'm glad the legislation didn't die.

    "Kossacks are held to a higher standard. Like Hebrew National hot dogs." - blueaardvark

    by louisev on Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 07:51:45 AM PDT

  •  Am I the only pessimist here? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bear83, Betty Pinson, whl

    Why am I convinced that a Cruz missile or other immoral weapon of mass distraction will be fired, and that the whole deal will collapse because of some TeaBuggerer's snit fit?

    Believe me, I do not like the idea, but given the utter inanity of those on the right, especially the Tea infused wing of certifiable nuts in Congress, I can only expect that they will reach my lowest expectorations and block this bill.

    What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology & understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

    by agnostic on Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 08:10:55 AM PDT

  •  I wonder if a liberal like Bernie can... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RubDMC, TheLizardKing, bluenick

    begin to feel the pain of the President and Sen. Reid? If you care about something or someone or some-multitude -- these evil bastards will use your 'bleeding heart' to their advantage. It's the opposite of selling out and always has been.

  •  Medicare seems good to me (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    whl, jfdunphy

    I wondered if Medicare expansion could alleviate this crisis.  We have a national health system in place involving private doctors that everybody who uses is happy with.  Why not extend this to veterans?

    I get the argument that some health-care needs are veteran-specific (e.g., TBI), and for that a network of dedicated health services is useful.  But for everything else it makes sense to me.

    Republicans think they deserve everything they have, and everyone else has everything they deserve.

    by Whore More Years on Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 08:29:13 AM PDT

    •  People may say they are happy with (0+ / 0-)

      Medicare, but continuing studies show that the US pays way too much money for the quality of care that is delivered. Two main goals of the Affordable Care Act are to lower costs and increase quality. An article on ProPublica indicates that Medicare gets overbilled by some $60 billion/year in combined fraud, waste and abuse. Which is the equivalent of about 12 Trident Submarines. And that's completely outside of any fraud, waste and abuse in the VA health system. So there is a serious cost issue here, and improvements would greatly help reduce the burden on taxpayers. That box on your payroll form for Medicare helps pay for the waste in the system, and lots of people work way too hard for the dollars that they do manages to wrestle from the corporations.

    •  It won't work.. too many toxin related illnesses (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RubDMC

      and pscyh problems regarding combat.  It just won't work.
      I have argued this before... Veterans are not just sick people... Seriously, it is more complicated than that.

      The right is about as wrong as it gets and please help veterans ...Thanks ! United Veterans of America

      by Vetwife on Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 12:12:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Crazy Cruz and Ryan's Express (0+ / 0-)

    "it's likely this will move quickly, with relatively few procedural delays."

    These two guys and their like-minded colleagues could throw a wrench in passage.  And I suspect they are more than willing to do so.  That's their MO.

  •  i believe although (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Vetwife

    this might look good initially in the long term this will create more problems than it solves, which is the republicans agenda in the first place.

  •  Money to hire more physicians is a great thing, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Betty Pinson

    but I wonder where they'll find more physicians!

    My recent experience with private care (with excellent private insurance) and now Medicare (with established doctor/patient relationships) tells me that we have a shortage of physicians in this country. Wait times to see a specialist -- even with serious situations and physician referrals -- easily do run 3 - 4 months!  

    Rearranging the deck chairs isn't going to help. We need a national program to recruit qualified students for the medical field by helping them with the expense of it.

    "Portion of the adolescent prisoners in solitary on Rikers Island who have been diagnosed with a mental illness: 7/10." Tell someone.

    by RJDixon74135 on Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 09:18:34 AM PDT

  •  There are military medical folk who may switch (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RubDMC, bobatkinson

    In my opinion, there are nurses and doctors on active duty in the Army, Navy, and Air Force who could be recruited for VA Medical assignments.

    Retirement from active duty and a switch to other Federal service can continue building retirement benefits.

    When the Afghan War winds down and the proposed cuts in Army and Marine Corps troop levels begin, there will be a significant number of support personnel reductions also.

    If or when the reductions in force begin, there may be a significant number of medical people ready to take VA jobs.

    We're all just working for Pharaoh.

    by whl on Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 10:41:44 AM PDT

  •  This could have been done last February (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RubDMC, jfdunphy, erichiro

    Who in the media will point out that this could have been done last February had 43 Republicans not filibustered virtually the exact bill that Sanders got passed this time around? Who will dare point out that the wait lists caused by understaffing caused by chronic underfunding was known about for years yet Republicans repeatedly refused to raise funding to levels adequate to address the new onslaught of veterans returning from Bush's war of choice in Iraq. These people were forced to do four, five and six tours in that hell hole and are coming back by the hundreds of thousands wounded in body, mind and soul to a congress that uses them for political games pieces. The same Republicans who voted for Bush's illegal war now filibuster funding to take care of the wounded until the harsh media lights shine on them and they can all get their photo ops at the local VA showing their oh so cynical concern. Shameless bastards, all of them.

  •  All they ever needed was llbear's diary (0+ / 0-)

    to the new VA secretary... the rest is just symoblic to a very real problem..   No one listens to the people with answers.

    The right is about as wrong as it gets and please help veterans ...Thanks ! United Veterans of America

    by Vetwife on Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 12:32:21 PM PDT

  •  he worked his ass off (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RubDMC

    still amazed, Bernie was in Philly last Thursday giving a rousing call to say "enough! and get to work"  having left frustrating meetings but never giving up on working the best he could do out, then right back to DC and more meetings, straight through. Congress might not work but some really are working night and day to get the best they can get for veterans, the environment, this country. They deserve our work as well. If anyone tells you they aren't going to bother with the primaries, keep at them until they step into the booth.

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