WASHINGTON (AP) -- United in response to a national uproar, Congress is suddenly moving quickly to address military veterans' long waits for care at VA hospitals.
The House has unanimously approved legislation to make it easier for patients enduring lengthy delays for initial visits to get VA-paid treatment from local doctors instead. The Senate is poised to vote on a similar bill within 48 hours, according to Democratic leader Harry Reid.
The House bill and the Senate version would spend hundreds of millions of dollars to hire more doctors and nurses, but that may be easier said than done amid a nationwide shortage of primary care physicians.
The legislation comes close on the heels of a Veterans Affairs Department audit showing that more than 57,000 new applicants for care have had to wait at least three months for initial appointments. An additional 64,000 newly enrolled vets who requested appointments never got them.