President Bush Signs Bill To Allow Congressional Review of Department of Veterans Affairs Hospital Closures
President Bush on Saturday signed a bill that gives Congress 60 days to review any decision by the Veterans Affairs secretary to close VA hospitals, the AP/San Francisco Chronicle reports (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 12/6). The House approved the bill (S 1156) last month as part of a package that authorizes the construction of VA health facilities. In August, the VA proposed to close seven aging or underused hospitals, construct new facilities and move services closer to areas where veterans live. A 15-member panel that met in November to study the proposal is expected to make recommendations this month. VA Secretary Anthony Principi said he would make a decision on whether to accept them within 30 days of receiving the recommendations (California Healthline, 11/24). Some lawmakers have been trying to protect VA hospitals in their states and districts from closure despite a congressional audit that found that the VA was "wasting" millions of dollars on largely vacant facilities in areas with dwindling veteran populations, the AP/Chronicle reports (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 12/6).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.