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Senators Reach Framework To Pay For Veterans' Care Outside System

Senators from both parties have reached an agreement on legislation that would expand the ability of veterans to seek government-paid medical care outside the network of the VA medical system.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont who is chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee, was joined by Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain in making the announcement Thursday on the Senate floor.

The Associated Press reports:

"The bill would allow veterans who experience long waits for VA appointments or who live at least 40 miles from a VA hospital or clinic to use private doctors enrolled as providers for Medicare or other government programs.

"The bill's goal is to address an uproar over veterans' health care following reports veterans have died while waiting to see a VA doctor."

The deal comes a week after Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned in the wake of an internal investigation that has found that hundreds of veterans have had long waits for medical care.

An inspector general's preliminary report released last month showed that the veterans were put on unofficial wait lists that delayed their treatment up to 115 days.

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