Veterans Affairs Dept. restructures services at nationwide locations

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In a key restructuring move the Veterans Affairs Department will close three hospitals in Pittsburgh, Brecksville, OH, and Gulfport, MS, and transfer services at its Livermore, CA, hospital -- except for its long-term care. The VA said it would build a new nursing home there. The agency will add or remove medical services at dozens of other facilities, according to the Associated Press.

The department began the restructuring two years ago in an effort to shift services to areas veteran populations are increasing. The VA also apparently intends to modernize outdated buildings and shed vacant space.

The VA plans to continue studying ways to cut costs, according to the AP. The agency also wants to build new rehabilitation centers for the blind in Biloxi, MS, and Long Beach, CA, and open new spinal cord centers in Denver, Minneapolis, and Syracuse or Albany, NY.

Congress will review Secretary Anthony Principi's decision. It cannot change the plan but does have authority to determine whether to fund the changes. Congress had been unwilling to approve money for construction until the department came up with a restructuring plan, according to the AP.