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An interim report by the VA’s inspector general said veterans in Phoenix wait an average of 115 days for a first appointment - five times longer than the 24-day average the hospital had reported. The inspector general said at least 42 VA facilities were under investigation, including the Phoenix VA hospital, where a former clinic director said as many as 40 veterans may have died while awaiting treatment.

Sanders has complained that the VA does not have enough doctors or nurses, particularly for primary care. He is sponsoring a bill that would authorize the VA to lease 27 new health facilities in 18 states. The VA system now has 150 hospitals and 820 clinics nationwide.

Miller, the House VA chairman, said Sanders’ bill was “too broad for the current discussion” and did not do enough to hold senior officials at the VA accountable for falsified waiting lists and other problems.

The House last month passed a bill by Miller that would allow the VA to immediately fire as many as 450 regional executives and hospital administrators for poor performance. Sanders has a similar bill but would give those managers more avenues to challenge their terminations. The differences didn’t appear to be a major hurdle.

“The House bill is not terrible. It doesn’t have the due process I would like but, you know, we can probably live with that. I can at least,” Reid told reporters this week.

Meanwhile Republican governors of six states, including Rick Perry of Texas and Rick Scott of Florida, asked President Barack Obama to give states authority to conduct reviews of all veterans health facilities within their borders. The governors said the state investigations would offer an independent review by officials “who have not been part of the current systemic crisis.”

Besides Scott and Perry, the letter was signed by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, Maine Gov. Paul LePage and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.


Associated Press writers Alan Fram and Erica Werner contributed to this report.


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