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Virginia Beach Estate Planning Lawyer / Blog / Veteran's Benefits / Budget Shortfall Could Close VA Hospitals

Budget Shortfall Could Close VA Hospitals

Health care for veterans, already in a deplorable state, could be about to get much worse, according to a recent Associated Press story that ran in in The San Diego Union-Tribune.

670px-US-DeptOfVeteransAffairs-SealThe Department of Veterans Affairs may have to shut down some hospitals this month if Congress fails to act to close to $2.5 billion budget shortfall, the story stated.

“The VA told Congress that it needs to cover shortfalls caused by an increased demand by veterans for health care, including costly treatments for hepatitis C,” the story continued. “The agency also is considering furloughs, hiring freezes and other steps to close a funding gap for the budget year that ends Sept. 30. The VA said it wants authority to use up to $3 billion from the new Veterans Choice program to close the budget gap, with as much as $500 million going to treat hepatitis C. A single pill for the liver-wasting viral infection can cost up to $1,000.”

The Choice program, part of an overhaul instituted in 2014, “makes it easier for veterans to receive federally paid medical care from local doctors,” the story by Matthew Daly stated.

“Congress approved $10 billion over three years for the Choice program as it responded to a scandal over long waits for veterans seeking medical care and falsified records to cover up the delays,” the article continued.

Deputy VA Secretary Sloan Gibson told Congress that health care sites experienced a 10.5 percent increase in workload for the one-year period since the scandal erupted in April 2014.

“The VA needs flexibility from Congress to close the budget gap, Gibson said, adding that action is needed in the next three weeks to avoid drastic consequences,” Daly wrote.

“This is far from the first time VA has disclosed problems far too late and turned its blatant mismanagement into a fiscal emergency,” Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, was quoted as saying.

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