(NBC News) Congressional leaders have announced a compromise bill designed to improve care at veterans hospitals.
The plan should mean shorter waits for care, especially for younger veterans just back from Iraq and Afghanistan who now wait weeks or months for a first appointment at the V.A.
The deal would provide $1.5 billion for 27 new clinics, $5 billion for more V.A. doctors and
$10 billion for outside care, allowing veterans to go to Private doctors if they don't live near a V.A. clinic or were on a waiting list.
Veterans activists say the key is turning to non-V.A. doctors.
"Going outside the system, utilizing private providers, community partners, is something that's going to immediately alleviate the access crisis," says Alex Nicholson of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.
Senate progressive Independent Bernie Sanders and House Republican Jeff Miller, who chair the Veterans Committees, say they can get their compromise passed this week.
-- Steve Handelsman reports