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McDonald details VA plan to slash veteran wait times

Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald on Wednesday detailed the agency’s plans to expand veterans’ access to care, after lengthy wait times revealed earlier this year were linked to a series of deaths.

In a briefing with President Obama, McDonald laid out a 90-day plan meant to improve service, rebuild veterans’ trust and set the course for long-term reform, according to the White House. McDonald is stepping into an agency that’s been under fire since the delays at agency-run healthcare clinics were exposed.
 
Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson also sat in on Wednesday’s meeting in which Obama pressed for strengthened management and accountability at the VA. Specifically Obama demanded more timely access to quality care, the elimination of a backlog of disability claims and steps to stamp out veteran homelessness.  
 
McDonald briefed Obama on regulations, proposed Tuesday, that map out the Veterans Choice Program.
 
A byproduct of legislation passed earlier this year, the program will allow eligible veterans, including those who live more than 40 miles from the closest VA healthcare facility and those who cannot get timely access to care in the VA system, to receive VA funded care from private healthcare providers.
 
McDonald and Obama also talked about the need to improve recruitment of top medical professionals to work in the VA healthcare system, according to the agency.

Former VA Secretary Eric ShinsekiEric Ken ShinsekiWhy aren't more Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Biden's Cabinet? Biden VA pick faces 'steep learning curve' at massive agency Biden nominee: VA staff hampered by 'mismanagement' MORE stepped down in May, on the heels of audits showing department officials had covered up long patient wait times at more than 100 facilities. As a result, some questioned whether the delays were related to dozens of patient deaths.