Fed court reverses order for VA system overhaul

By PAUL ELIAS,Associated Press Updated at 2012-05-07 18:03:08 +0000

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A federal appeals court is reversing its demand that the Veterans Affairs Department dramatically overhaul its mental health care system.

A special 11-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Monday that any such overhaul needs to be ordered by Congress or the president.

The 10-1 ruling reversed an earlier decision by a three-judge panel of the same court.

The May 2011 ruling had ordered the VA to ensure that suicidal vets are seen immediately, among other changes. It found the VA's "unchecked incompetence" in handling the flood of post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health claims was unconstitutional.

The new decision says courts are powerless to implement the fixes sought by two veterans groups that filed the lawsuit against the VA in 2007.

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