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Obama signs Ernst bill, cutting red tape and wait time for veterans at VA medical facilities

This news story was published on December 16, 2016.
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U.S. Capitol

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A bill first introduced by Senators Joni Ernst of Iowa and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota – cutting red tape and wait time for veterans at VA medical facilities – has been signed into law by President Obama.

A June 2014 internal audit by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) found that more than 120,000 veterans waited at least 90 days for appointments for health care or never received appointments. Other hospitals and health systems are now leveraging technology to eliminate wait times and ensure that every available appointment is used. The bipartisan Faster Care for Veterans Act directs the Secretary of the VA to commence a pilot program under which veterans could use the internet to schedule and confirm appointments for health care at VA medical facilities.

“Excessive wait times can put veterans’ lives at risk, but state-of-the art technology that makes it easier to schedule appointments already exists and is being used in other hospital systems,” said Senator Amy Klobuchar. “Our veterans have earned the right to use the same technology to schedule their medical appointments without unnecessary red tape and delays. Now that our bill has been signed into law, we have taken an important step forward in ensuring that our brave men and women who have sacrificed so much have access to the medical care they need and deserve.”

Senator Joni Ernst

“Our veterans shouldn’t be forced to wait weeks on end for an appointment at the VA,” said Senator Joni Ernst. “The Faster Care for Veterans Act will allow veterans to schedule and confirm their appointments at VA centers online, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Modernizing the appointment process means quicker and more accessible service. I am pleased that this new law will help to uphold our commitment to provide quality and timely care for our nation’s veterans.”
Under the Faster Care for Veterans Act, the VA is required to commence an 18-month pilot program that would allow veterans to self-schedule, confirm, and modify outpatient and specialty care appointments in real time through the internet. This technology allows veterans to immediately schedule appointments canceled by other veterans and schedule appointments 24 hours per day, seven days per week.

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18 Responses to Obama signs Ernst bill, cutting red tape and wait time for veterans at VA medical facilities

  1. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    December 19, 2016 at 8:37 am

    Have a happy happy holiday ! THE MOST BEAUTIFUL ONE IN EIGHT YEARS !!!!MERRY CHRISTMAS – MERRY CHRISTMAS and GOD bless Donald J Trump and this patriotic following.

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    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    December 19, 2016 at 2:36 am

    I am a disabled veteran of the Gulf war with 100% disabled rating. I have had appointments set and day before they call and cancel without giving a reason. If I can’t get into the VA I have no medical insurance for civilian Dr’s. I had a appointment in July but after repeated canceling I was seen in November. Even then the appointment with Dr was online. No face to face.

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    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    December 18, 2016 at 10:13 am

    Change the law – it takes an act of God to fire a union public servant – they just transfer them to another job where they can start over at being a dumb azz.

  4. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    December 18, 2016 at 10:09 am

    Bodo ! Your a con artist like most demorats – the only ones torpedoed was the crooked demorats -remember WIKI leaks.. Ps I hope Trump pardons Snowden/Assange – real political crooks starting with local levels to the scum at the top will be found out and dealt with – look around at your local public servants and their priorites to see if they are getting graft. DNC was’nt hacked – old podestra the dnc chairman gave out his computer password by mistake and opened up the corruption in the democratic party.

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    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    December 18, 2016 at 9:57 am

    Is she related to the Ernst that gives the white house press announcements.?

  6. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    December 17, 2016 at 8:43 am

    They tell you they will give you hope and change — IT WILL take— Donald J Trump to COMPLETE the task – these political correct politicians are disgusting. You know like supervisor bartz a member of the wcda board did not receive a 75k grant to fix up his 20 year abandonded chinese cafe – the money went to the Manly historical society then to the cafe which of course bartz happens to own. – – sort of like Clinton did’nt receive graft from foreign countries it went to the clinton crooked foundation.

  7. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    December 17, 2016 at 7:56 am

    It is about time Obama did something to help the Vet’s.

    • Avatar

      bodacious Reply Report comment

      December 17, 2016 at 2:32 pm

      He has been doing things but the Republicans in Congress have been turning down his attempts.

      • Avatar

        Anonymous Reply Report comment

        December 17, 2016 at 3:11 pm

        Name some.

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            December 17, 2016 at 3:29 pm

            If all that is true (and, I don’t know that it is) why is the V.A. still in trouble? Every week I see on the news something else bad about the V.A. A lot of the vets that use the V.A. around here say it sucks. That they wait and wait and then get sub standard care. especially in Minneapolis. That looks like a left wing site to me that I see on Facebook.

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            December 17, 2016 at 5:32 pm

            anonymous, sorry I was snarky on that reply. But, the reason the VA is still struggling is because of the obstructionists in Congress. Now they can claim President Obama did nothing for the vets because they didn’t pass the bills.

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          bodacious Reply Report comment

          December 17, 2016 at 3:20 pm

          In case you are too lazy to read the previous link, here are 5 bills the Republicans torpedoed.

          The House Appropriations Subcommittee, met with VA Secretary Bob McDonald to remove more than $1.4 billion in veteran services from President Obama’s proposed 2016 budget. Included in those cuts was more than $690 million earmarked for direct VA medical care and $582 million in VA construction projects. As a result of the cuts, it was estimated that 70,000 fewer veterans would be able to receive needed care.

          This bipartisan bill would have provided fertility treatment and counseling for severely wounded veterans and their spouses. However, the bill was killed before making it out of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee after Republicans proposed an amendment to prevent any involvement with Planned Parenthood.

          The author of the bill, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), took to the floor of the Senate and made the following statement:

          “Don’t take something that should be above politics, our sacred duty to our veterans, pull it down into the muck of petty politics. It is not fair to veterans and their families who have been hoping and praying for the opportunity to have children.”

          This bill, proposed by Senator Bernie Sanders, was a piece of sweeping legislation that would have expanded healthcare and education for veterans. After clearing a procedural vote by a 99-0 margin, the bill was hijacked by Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans who attached an amendment to the bill which would have levied sanctions on Iran.

          While arguing over the proposed amendments, other Republicans took to the floor to raise concerns over the cost of the bill, and it was ultimately defeated with 41 of 45 Senate Republicans voting against the bill.
          4. VETERANS JOBS CORPS ACT (2012)
          Originally submitted by democratic Representative Bruce Braley of Iowa, this bill would have established the Veteran’s Jobs Corps to provide gainful employment to more than 20,000 veterans through public works projects in their own communities at a cost of $1 billion over 5 years.

          Ultimately, Senate Republicans blocked the bill because it was unpaid for… while simultaneously proposing a bill to increase military spending with no way to pay for it.

          “We Republicans remain resolute in our commitment to deny the Democrats anything that looks like an accomplishment in an election year,” said Republican leader Mitch McConnell.

          Originally proposed to expand assistance for homeless women veterans and homeless veterans with children, as well as increasing funding for federal grant programs to address the issues surrounding homelessness amongst veterans, this bipartisan bill made its way through the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee with strong support from members of both parties.

          However, the bill was promptly killed as Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell, on behalf of Senator Tom Coburn, objected based on the cost of the program.

          “If we don’t start paying for new programs and continue on our path to bankruptcy we’ll have a homelessness problem beyond imagination,” Coburn spokesman John Hart told HuffPost. “The old Washington excuse that it’s too hard to cut spending is undermining our troops, our veterans and our future.”

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            December 17, 2016 at 5:43 pm

            That is O.K. I want to look at this some more before I make up my mind. I do know from talking to a lot of vets they are very disappointed in the care they receive. I noticed you didn’t list the ones that compromised. There is always another story and depending on your view depends on what you believe. I don’t know if anything was tacked on or hidden that might have gotten these turned down.

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            December 18, 2016 at 8:12 am

            After thinking on this it came to me that five attempted corrections of a totally mismanaged operation in eight years really is nothing but a token attempt to get the heat off. If they had really been serious they would have tried over and over.

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            December 18, 2016 at 1:59 pm

            I am sure there are more but the point being, why try when the prevailing sentiment was to block whatever was presented? McConnell and his obstructionists vowed early on in President Obama’s 1st term to do everything they could to make his time in the White House unpleasant. And now they complain that the Democrats are being mean to them.

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            December 18, 2016 at 2:55 pm

            Again, I still don’t know if anything was added to the bill that killed them or modified them. So far I have found nothing.

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        Anonymous Reply Report comment

        December 17, 2016 at 3:12 pm

        How many people were fired over the Arizona V.A. incident? How many were fired around the country when vets were dying while waiting to see a doctor?