Veterans’ health top priority for AmericansNews added by Benefits Pro on June 16, 2014

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By Kathryn Mayer

In wake of the Veterans Affairs scandal, most Americans say there should be a new focus on improving veterans’ health, according to a new poll.

Nearly nine out of 10 Americans say it’s “extremely” (41 percent) or “very important” (46 percent) that the president and Congress deal with veterans’ health care in the next year, Gallup said Friday.

It’s the top legislative priority for the public — far above other the nine other priorities listed in the survey results, including equal pay legislation for women (72 percent); conducting investigations into the September 2012 attacks in Benghazi (59 percent) and legislation raising the minimum wage (57 percent).

Gallup also found that 53 percent of Americans say that “passing new legislation that would scale back” parts of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is important. Three-quarters of Republicans say PPACA changes should be a priority, while 37 percent of Democrats say the same.

Though most listed issues have Republicans and Democrats divided on their importance, both parties agree on the need for VA reform: 90 percent Democrats and 91 percent of Republicans say it’s an important priority.

The poll follows news of “systematic” failures in the VA department, including hidden months-long waiting lists of veterans trying to see doctors. More than 120,000 veterans hadn’t received a medical appointment or were currently waiting longer than 90 days for care, an audit revealed.

Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned last month.

The Senate on Wednesday, by a large margin, voted to spend about $1.5 billion to improve health care access for military veterans.

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