- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Recent editorials from Tennessee newspapers:

July 29

The Jackson (Tennessee) Sun on VA deal:

We were mildly encouraged Monday about the “deal” reached to address some of the problems with the Department of Veterans Affairs health care system. But we remain frustrated about how we got to this point and suspicious about whether this will bring lasting improvements to a system that has been plagued with problems for decades.

From the outset, we bristle at the fact that politicians have to reach a “deal” to address the health care of our nation’s veterans. It makes us sick that something so important must be politicized with talk of “competing plans” from the House, Senate or others.

We realize this is probably wishful thinking in our politicized, us-against-them world, but how about people from all sides meet and come up with a plan that simply addresses the needs of the men and women who have served and sacrificed for our country?

The arrangement announced Monday by Sen. Bernie Sanders, chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, and Rep. Jeff Miller, chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, would authorize about $17 billion to be spent to help avoid the long waits veterans have been tortured with for health care. The money would be used to hire more doctors and nurses, open new clinics and more.

It would be offset with about $5 billion in cuts to the VA.

A key facet of the plan - especially in rural West Tennessee and other areas like it - is that the plan would allow qualified veterans who live at least 40 miles from a VA hospital or clinic to be treated by private doctors, with the VA paying the bill.

We’re hopeful that this plan addresses the issue of long waits. But deeper problems exist with the VA and have for years. Congress cannot afford to sit back and pat itself on the back after it approves this “deal.” It must move forward and demand further investigation, overhaul and accountability measures within the VA.

Our veterans deserve nothing less.

Online:

http://www.jacksonsun.com

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July 29

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