Each year, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) asks Congress to approve a larger budget. Congress obliges, but the quality of care at many VA facilities does not improve.
The new chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee (HVAC), Representative Phil Roe, wants the VA to use funding more efficiently.
“I think we have the resources there, we just have to spend the money smarter. I think we can work with the budget we have,” he said. “I don’t believe we are getting our money’s worth right now. I believe we can do better.”
Roe claims the money for improvements is in the system already, but it is not being used effectively.
Reports from the VA agree with him. In 2015, amid constant scandals, VA employees were awarded $177 million in bonuses. Across the country, officials manipulate incentives programs to line their own pockets. While administrators claim they are budget-strapped, facilities spend millions on art installations and unnecessary renovations.
Since 2001, the VA budget has risen from $45 billion to $176.9 billion, causing some lawmakers to question the effectiveness of budget increases. Wait times at medical facilities have not improved, and veterans are still dying.
In 2014, Congress voted to allocate $2.5 billion to the VA, for hiring more doctors, nurses, and staff at VA medical centers. NPR reports that the VA hired approximately the same number of staff as anticipated before receiving the $2.5 billion. NPR also found that new hires weren’t sent to hospitals with the longest wait times.
Dr. David Shulkin, President Trump’s pick for VA Secretary, assured senators that he will seek major reform. He declared he would push for “greater accountability, dramatically improved access, responsiveness and expanded care options.”
Any VA reform must include VA leadership being responsible stewards of taxpayer funds and keeping their mission in mind – caring for veterans first.
This starts by effectively and efficiently spending money on service for veterans.
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