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updated: 6/11/2014 10:30 AM

Highlights of House, Senate veterans bills

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Associated Press

A comparison of House and Senate legislation aimed at improving medical care for Department of Veterans Affairs patients:

HOUSE BILL

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• Requires VA to pay for outside medical care for veterans unable to get prompt treatment from the agency or who live at least 40 miles from a VA facility. This would last two years.

• Prohibits bonuses for all VA employees through 2016.

• Requires independent assessment of VA health programs and obliges agency to report to Congress on how it implements audit recommendations.

• Complements earlier House-passed bill making it easier for VA secretary to fire agency officials.

SENATE BILL

• Requires VA to pay for outside medical care for veterans unable to get prompt treatment from the agency or who live at least 40 miles from a VA facility. This would last two years.

• Bars VA from awarding bonuses to employees for meeting goals for prompt scheduling of patients' appointments -- a practice investigators say led some officials to create phony wait lists.

• Makes it easier for VA secretary to fire or demote agency officials.

• Lets VA enter leases for 26 major medical facilities in 17 states and Puerto Rico.

• Gives VA 60 days to create disciplinary procedures for workers who knowingly falsify wait-time data; requires agency to publish goals for wait times for appointments and actual wait times at each VA medical center.

• Expands sexual trauma services and requires reports on domestic abuse in veterans' households.

• Lets agency more quickly fill medical jobs with greatest shortages.

• Bars VA education benefits for veterans attending public institutions unless those schools charge veterans in-state tuition.

Note: House bill is HR 4810, Senate bill is S 2450.

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