This is the definition of outrageous! Remember it was revealed last year that the VA spent $500 million on new office furniture? Yes, and then Obama asked for a 3% budget increase. The $500 million should have been spent on our vets and their care! Priorities:
The VA’s San Juan, Puerto Rico office spent $1.8 million on new office furniture, and one of its Virginia offices spent $1.9 million on “systems office furniture.”
A budget shortfall has caused the Veteran’s Administration (VA) to stop referring patients to outside hospitals in at least one region, keeping thousands of veterans on waiting lists.
According to a memo from the region called Veterans Integrated Services Network (VISN) 9 — covering VA hospitals in Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia — the entire region has been forced to stop all “non-VA care” referrals due to a budget shortfall.
“We have no Non-VA Care funds available and cannot over-commit. We have a shortfall of general operating funds,” the memo obtained by The Daily Caller reads.
“We must change our current referral practices immediately to ensure we are able to maintain our ability to provide critical care,” the memo continues. “The practice of referring to NVCC for Access/Wait Time reduction reasons is not allowed until further notice from the Network.”
Sandra Glover, public affairs officer for VISN 9, didn’t respond to an email for comment.
Non-VA care referrals are one of several programs the VA has to get veterans care in hospitals outside the VA if there is backlog at their VA hospital.
“Non-VA care is usually provided when: the needed clinical service cannot be provided by a VA facility and the veteran patient cannot be transferred to another VA facility; VA cannot recruit a needed clinician; a veteran cannot access a VA facility due to geographic inaccessibility; there is an emergent situation where delays in care could result in a life-threatening situation; or, to meet patient wait-time standards,” said a source at the House Veterans Affairs Committee (HVAC).
The directive comes at a time when the most recent numbers analyzed by TheDC show thousands of veterans on electronic wait lists all throughout the six hospitals which comprise the VISN 9.
There are 22,911 patients all throughout VISN 9 who have been waiting more than 90 days for an appointment with the Tennessee Valley VA Medical Center in Nashville, leading the way with 13,223 patients waiting more than 90 days for service.
A call to the Tennessee Valley VA Medical Center office of public affairs was left unreturned.
At the Memphis VA, where 3,540 veterans have been waiting more than 120 days for an appointment, the Memphis VA’s public affairs officer, Willie Logan, said that the majority, 3,187, have been added to an alternative program called the Veteran’s Choice Program, which was created and funded in the highly publicized Veterans Access, Choice, Accountability Act (VACAA) of 2014.
But the Veteran’s Choice Program has been fraught with problems, including a slow rollout and recent disclosures that money earmarked for the program was going to pay for hepatitis C vaccines and to pay for some of the extra costs in the construction debacle for the new VA Medical Center in Aurora, Colorado, not scheduled to open until 2017.
HVAC Chairman Jeff Miller estimated that about $150 million from the Veteran’s Choice Program has been diverted to pay for the Aurora construction project at a recent HVAC hearing.
Read more: Daily Caller