Obama Signs VA Health Care Overhaul

The sign of the Department of Veteran Affairs is seen in front of the headquarters building in Washington, May 23, 2014.
The sign of the Department of Veteran Affairs is seen in front of the headquarters building in Washington, May 23, 2014. LARRY DOWNING / Reuters

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President Barack Obama on Thursday signed legislation aimed to reform the Department of Veterans Affairs and reduce wait times for veterans seeking health care as the agency attempts to move past its scandal-filled recent history.

"To care for him or her who shall have borne the battle, that’s the heart of the VA’s motto. That’s what the bill I’m about to sign will help us achieve," Obama said at Fort Belvoir in Virginia.

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The $16.3 billion legislation will allow some veterans to go to private doctors for treatment and clears the way to hire thousands of medical professionals to help address the backlog of patients seeking care. It also makes it easier to fire poorly performing senior VA executives.

The bill, which passed with bipartisan support, is one of the few significant legislative accomplishments Congress has achieved this year.

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-- Andrew Rafferty