VA’s mismanagement of fund leads to longer lines, hospital closures

This photo taken April 13, 2015, shows the cemetery outside Battle Mountain Sanitarium, the Veterans Affairs hospital in Hot Springs, S.D. Officials with the Black Hills VA system have proposed shuttering the campus, relocating some services and leaving only an outpatient clinic in the city that the state Legislature declared in 2014 to be The Veteran’s Town. A decision is expected in 2016. (AP Photo/Kristina Barker)

Despite receiving a $16 billion boost in funding less than a year ago, the Department of Veteran Affairs reports that it will be forced to shut down more hospitals as early as next month if it does not receive additional money.

Some are questioning the accounting and business practices of VA officials. The Washington Post reports that a senior official at the VA criticized the agency’s mismanagement of funds, blaming it for longer wait times and slower service for veterans in need of medical assistance. The memo states that $6 billion was spent in the absence of a contract, in direct violation of federal contract regulations.

According to Investors.com, there are currently 847,000 veterans waiting for approval of benefits from the VA, and nearly 238,000 veterans have actually died while on the waiting list. Of the 847,000 waiting in line, 34,000 are combat veterans. Combat veterans are supposed to be immediately eligible for benefits.

VA officials blame the long waits on the increase in number of patients requiring medical attention at VA hospitals, according to the New York Times. Not only are patient numbers rising at VA hospitals, but each patient is also averaging more appointments than in the past.

This photo taken April 13, 2015, shows the Battle Mountain Sanitarium campus, top left, a scenic escape perched atop a bluff in the remote Black Hills of South Dakota that’s become a haven known for healing the nation's veterans over the last century. That tradition could soon end as officials with the Veterans Affairs in South Dakota have proposed shuttering the 108-year-old campus, relocating some of its services and leaving only an outpatient clinic in Hot Springs, the city the state Legislature declared in 2014 to be The Veteran’s Town. (AP Photo/Kristina Barker)
This photo taken April 13, 2015, shows the Battle Mountain Sanitarium campus, top left, a scenic escape perched atop a bluff in the remote Black Hills of South Dakota that’s become a haven known for healing the nation’s veterans over the last century. That tradition could soon end as officials with the Veterans Affairs in South Dakota have proposed shuttering the 108-year-old campus, relocating some of its services and leaving only an outpatient clinic in Hot Springs, the city the state Legislature declared in 2014 to be The Veteran’s Town. (AP Photo/Kristina Barker)

“Something has to give. We can’t leave this as the status quo. We are not meeting the needs of veterans, and veterans are signaling that to us by coming in for additional care, and we can’t deliver it as timely as we want to,” Sloan D. Gibson, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Veteran Affairs, said in an interview.

According to Gibson, the department will fall about $2.7 billion short this year unless changes are made. In addition to the closure of hospitals around the nation, the agency will need to cut expenses through furloughs, hiring freezes, or rationing new treatments for veterans. The New York Times also reports that the VA is even considering excluding care for patients who have advanced terminal diseases.

Author

  • Michael Swaney

    Michael is an Army veteran and the Director of Content for Bright Mountain Media LLC

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