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House Approves VA Health Care Overhaul

Patients wait their turn at the VA Medical Center in La Jolla on June 20, 2014. VA officials say existing patients can make an appointment to see their doctor within two weeks, but new patients often can't get in for six weeks.
Katie Schoolov
Patients wait their turn at the VA Medical Center in La Jolla on June 20, 2014. VA officials say existing patients can make an appointment to see their doctor within two weeks, but new patients often can't get in for six weeks.

The House has approved a compromise bill to refurbish the Veterans Affairs Department and improve veterans' health care.

The 420-5 vote Wednesday sends the bill to the Senate, where approval is expected by the end of the week.

The $16.3 billion measure is intended to help veterans avoid long waits for health care, hire more doctors and nurses to treat them and make firing senior executives at the VA easier.

The measure includes $10 billion in emergency spending to help veterans who can't get prompt appointments with VA doctors to obtain outside care; $5 billion to hire doctors, nurses and other medical staff and about $1.3 billion to lease 27 new clinics across the country.

The Senate on Tuesday confirmed business executive Robert McDonald to lead the sprawling agency.

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