2014-06-06T212314Z_1_LYNXMPEA550ZB_RTROPTP_2_USA-VETERANS-CONGRESS

New VA secretary plans more 'purchased care' to relieve backlogs

Acting U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Gibson speaks with the media after meeting with staff members at the Carl T. Hayden VA Medical Center in PhoenixBy Jim Forsyth SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) – The acting secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs said on Friday the agency is putting out bids for “purchased care” that would allow veterans to be treated at other hospitals at the VA’s expense while cutting backlogs at its facilities. “In far too many instances, in far too many locations, we have let our veterans down,” Sloan Gibson told reporters after a tour of the sprawling Audie Murphy VA Medical Center in San Antonio. VA hospitals and clinics will be open during non-traditional hours to expand coverage, said Gibson, who was appointed acting secretary of the department on May 30. U.S. lawmakers engaged in bipartisan talks this week to address delays in the delivery of health care for military veterans.

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