U.S.

Can The VA Reform Bill Reform The VA?

A bill aimed at reforming the Department of Veterans Affairs passed the Senate Thursday night before Congress takes its August recess.

Can The VA Reform Bill Reform The VA?
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‚ÄčIt's been a rocky couple of months for the Department of Veterans Affairs, but now Congress' much-anticipated reform bill seeks to put an end to some of the department's issues. (Via Billy Hathorn / CC BY SA 3.0)

Just hours before Congress was set to begin its August recess, the Senate approved a $16.3 billion reform bill that aims to alleviate overcrowded hospitals and provide better quality health care. (Via CNN)

The chairmen of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs committees introduced the bill Monday to address some of the VA's most recent scandals, including reports of long scheduling delays and patients dying while waiting for treatment. (Via Getty Images, Getty Images)

The bill previously received overwhelming bipartisan approval in the House Wednesday. Now with the Senate's approval, it heads to President Obama for his signature. (Via C-SPAN)

Some have called the move a "miracle" and a sign Congress is actually able to work together after the Senate previously rejected a broader VA bill in February. (Via The Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, The Washington Post, Roll Call)

‚ÄčANCHOR: "Does it take a crisis like this for Congress to do anything?" 
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: "Right now there is no secret there are very long waiting lines in VA facilities all over the country. It's an issue we have to address. This bill does that." (Via MSNBC)

Much of the delay in reaching a compromise was due to the vast difference in the chambers' price tags — which were billions of dollars apart.

And Republicans had also raised concerns about increased costs without any additional spending cuts. (Via CBS)

And Republicans were pushing for a provision allowing patients to seek care outside the VA system, while Democrats wanted to strengthen the VA's capabilities. (Via Getty Images)

In the end, both sides reached a middle ground. The proposal allocates $10 billion for veterans who have waited more than 30 days for care to seek care outside the VA and about $6 billion for hiring additional medical staff and opening new VA offices. (Via Stars and Stripes)