A 16-member advisory panel supported a Veterans Affairs Department's proposal to close hospitals in Mississippi, Ohio and Pennsylvania but opposed shutting down facilities in Livermore, Calif., Lexington, Ky., and Canandaigua, N.Y. The panel also agreed that the VA should open a new hospital in Orlando, Fla., but said the agency should continue partnering with Nellis Air Force Base rather than open a hospital in Las Vegas. The changes are part of a 20-year VA plan to adjust to new demand patterns as the veterans population shifts to Sun Belt states from northern cities. "The commission believes that change is necessary to prepare the system for a new veteran demographic reality and a rapidly evolving approach to healthcare delivery," the panel said in its report to VA Secretary Anthony Principi. Principi will make a decision on the panel's recommendations within about a month, the agency said. -- by the Associated Press
Panel supports closing some VA hospitals
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