FBI opens criminal probe of VA

WASHINGTON (AP) — The FBI says it has opened a criminal investigation into the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The move comes as Congress takes steps to help thousands of military veterans who’ve been dealing with long wait times for VA medical care.

FBI Director James Comey says the probe is being led by the FBI’s field office in Phoenix. An inspector general’s report last month confirmed allegation of excessive waiting times and inappropriate scheduling practices at a VA hospital there.

A U.S. law enforcement official says the Justice Department formally asked the FBI to help review materials provided by the inspector general’s office.

The Senate is poised to vote on a measure that would allow veterans to get treatment from local doctors, paid for by the VA, if they’ve encountered delays getting initial visits to VA facilities.

The measure closely resembles a bill approved with no opposition yesterday in the House.

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APPHOTO AZRF106: Don Parker, right, waits with his father, Harley Parker, center, a World War II veteran, as they wait their turn to speak with someone at a health care crisis center set up by the American Legion at the American Legion Post 1 hall, at a first-of-its-kind event for the nation’s largest veterans group, Tuesday, June 10, 2014, in Phoenix. More than 57,000 new applicants have had to wait at least three months before their first appointments, while an additional 64,000 who enrolled for VA health care over the past decade have never been seen by a doctor, according to a VA audit released earlier this week. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) (10 Jun 2014)

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