2014-05-24T042206Z_1_CBREA4N0C4X00_RTROPTP_2_USA-VETERANS

U.S. Republican seeks private health care for waiting veterans

House Speaker Boehner and Representative Miller hold a news conference on accountability for Department of Veterans Affairs in WashingtonBy David Lawder WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Republican congressman overseeing a U.S. House panel investigation into delays in veterans’ treatment demanded on Friday that Veteran Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki allow patients to seek emergency private health care. The VA’s Inspector General’s office is also investigating allegations that long waiting times were covered up at some 26 locations across the United States, including claims by VA doctors in Phoenix that 40 veterans died while waiting months for appointments. Representative Jeff Miller, chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, asked Shinseki in a letter to allow veterans waiting more than 30 days for an appointment to seek care from private practitioners paid for by the department. “That’s why I’m calling on Secretary Shinseki to take emergency steps to ensure veterans who may have fallen victim to appointment wait time schemes or delays in care get the medical treatment they need.” A VA spokesman said in a statement that its health care division has redoubled its efforts to ensure that veterans have timely access to care at Shinseki’s request.

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