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Senate passes bipartisan bill offering veterans more medical care options

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Senate on Wednesday overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan measure aimed at easing healthcare delays for veterans by giving them more access to private care and allowing the Department of Veterans Affairs to open more clinics and hire more medical staff.

The vote in the Democratic-led Senate followed unanimous passage on Tuesday in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives of a similar bill to address a crisis that has embarrassed the Obama administration and prompted Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to quit.

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Lawmakers must now iron out differences between the House and Senate versions before voting on a final package that could be signed into law by President Barack Obama. The Senate measure matches several provisions passed by the House to address a crisis unfolding in the run-up to November’s congressional elections.

Provisions passed by both chambers would allow veterans to visit private doctors at VA expense if they are forced to endure long waits for appointments at VA clinics or live more than 40 miles (64 km) away, and would give the VA secretary more power to fire or demote employees for poor performance.

(Reporting by Will Dunham and David Lawder; Editing by Jim Loney and Peter Cooney)

[Image: “Soldier Having Counselling Session,” via Shutterstock]

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



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At least eight prison officials knew Epstein wasn’t supposed to be left alone — but they did it anyway: report

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On Wednesday, the Washington Post reported that at least eight staffers at the Bureau of Prisons were aware that arrested hedge fund manager Jeffrey Epstein could be a risk to himself if left unsupervised — raising further questions about why exactly guards left him to his own devices on the night that he allegedly hanged himself.

Investigators reportedly believe that at least some of these officials were aware that he had been left alone. It is unclear why nobody intervened, and the Justice Department is continuing with its investigation. Attorney General William Barr recently ordered the removal of the acting director of the Bureau of Prisons.

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Russian disqualified from Tango competition for punching his partner

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A Russian participant in the World Tango Championships in Buenos Aires has been disqualified for violence towards his partner, the organizers said Wednesday.

The incident happened after the duo, a husband and wife, took part in the semi-final of the competition on Tuesday in the Argentine capital.

Organizers condemned the assault plus "assisted the victim and made the decision to disqualify the dancer," said a source with the Championships who declined to be named.

Officials did not name the couple in order "to preserve the identity of the victim who declined to file a complaint."

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‘His mommy should have told him she loved him a little bit more’: CNN analyst eviscerates Trump over ‘chosen one’ comments’

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On Wednesday's edition of CNN's "The Situation Room," analyst Gloria Borger laid into President Donald Trump for his bizarre press conference anointing himself "the chosen one."

"'I am the chosen one,' and that comes after the president re-tweeted a conspiracy theorist radio host who said that he is like the second coming," said host Brianna Keilar. "So what do you make of all of this?"

"I think maybe his mommy should have told him she loved him a little bit more," said Borger. "I don't know. It is hard — it is hard to know what to make of this. Some people will say, as Trump says, 'Oh, I was only joking when I said all of that stuff.' But the truth of the matter is that he does this all of the time, and talks about how wonderful he is, and if you recall during his speech at the convention when he talked about the problems the country was facing he was saying 'I alone can fix it.'"

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