Veterans Affairs Officials Present Report, Recommend Hospital Closings
During a Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee hearing Tuesday, Department of Veterans Affairs officials recommended closing or downsizing several VA hospitals, The Hill reports (Rochmes, The Hill, 3/4). The recommendations come from a report conducted by the Capital Asset Realignment for Enhanced Services Commission. In August, the VA proposed closing seven old or underused hospitals, constructing new facilities and moving services closer to areas where veterans live. The CARES panel has given its recommendations to VA Secretary Anthony Principi, who said he will make a decision on whether to accept them soon. In December, President Bush signed legislation (S 1156) that gives Congress 60 days to review any decision by the VA secretary to close VA hospitals. The law is part of a package that authorizes the construction of VA health facilities (California Healthline, 12/17/03). Robert Roswell, VA undersecretary for health, said, "If the plan is accepted by the secretary, it will be enacted over a number of years and no action will be taken until alternatives are identified." Veterans Affairs Committee members are expected "to urge" Principi to delay his response to the CARES Commission report until next month, according to a committee aide, The Hill reports. Principi's office did not comment on whether he would change his plan to respond to the report by March 12. Committee Chair Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) said that the final decision on the CARES report will be up to Congress, adding "We are going to take the CARES report under a microscope" (The Hill, 3/4).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.