Tags: VA Scandal | Veterans Affairs | healthcare | underfunded | service | VFW | Paralyzed Veterans of America

Veterans Groups: VA Healthcare System Still Underfunded

By    |   Thursday, 15 Jan 2015 06:52 PM

The Department of Veterans Affairs healthcare system is still underfunded despite a multibillion-dollar shot in the arm last summer and runs the risk of new delays in care, four veterans service organizations warn.

According to the groups — American Veterans, Disabled American Veterans, Paralyzed Veterans of America, and the VFW — the hospital system that serves nearly 9 million vets every year will run at least $2 billion short of what it needs, Stars and Stripes reports.

And the expanded access to outside care now allowed veterans could risk creating more delays without proper management and oversight, the groups say.

The concerns comes in the groups' "Independent Budget," recommendations put together for the VA and Congress every year, Stars and Stripes notes.

The funding shortfall "is a problem that has compounded over time" and began as early as 2000, Carl Blake, of Paralyzed Veterans of America, told Stars and Stripes.

The $16.3 billion Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act — passed by Congress in August after a scandal erupted showing delayed care, falsified appointment records and coverups at VA clinics — pumped money into the system but not enough to dig the department out of a hole, Blake contends.

The increase included $10 billion for vets who needed to go outside the VA system for treatment because of long delays at department facilities. The VA has conceded it needs to hire as many as 28,000 doctors, nurses and therapists, Stars and Stripes notes.

"We certainly appreciate the fact that Congress provided approximately $5 billion to expand internal capacity, as well as supported other priorities," the groups said.

"However, we also recognize that these resources will be released only slowly over an extended period of time while demand for healthcare services will continue to grow. To satisfy this increased demand, new and sufficient resources must be found."

The new program to let vets seek care elsewhere if it's not available at a VA facility near them could cause "referral backlogs and persistent billing problems" without enough staffing and oversight, the groups say.

Outside care also could undercut VA health treatment unavailable elsewhere, like treatment for spinal cord injuries, they said.

"By sending veterans out of the system, they are abandoning a system that veterans rely on," Blake told Stars and Stripes.

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The Department of Veterans Affairs healthcare system is still underfunded - despite a multibillion-dollar shot in the arm last summer - and runs the risk of new delays in care, four veterans service organizations warn.
Veterans Affairs, healthcare, underfunded, service, VFW, Paralyzed Veterans of America, disabled
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2015-52-15
Thursday, 15 Jan 2015 06:52 PM
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