House nears approval of bill improving vets' care

WASHINGTON - The House has overwhelmingly approved legislation to allow patients facing long waits for care at Veterans Affairs facilities to get VA-paid treatment from local doctors.

Tuesday's 421-0 vote was Congress' latest response to the outcry over backlogs and falsified data at the VA.

The bill is similar to a broader measure that the Senate plans to debate soon.

The action comes with the VA reeling from growing evidence that workers fabricated data on veterans' waits for medical appointments in an effort to mask frequent, long delays.

A VA audit this week showed that more than 57,000 new patients waited at least three months for initial appointments.

Republican Rep. Jeff Miller of Florida, chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, says the VA's handling of patients is a national disgrace.

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