VA to be Rewarded $17 Billion for Failing Vets

A few days ago, we saw a headline we wished we hadn’t seen, in which a VA official testified to Congress that the VA would need over $17 billion to “fix” the problems that have been denying veterans access to care. Well, it looks like he’s going to get it.

The New York Times reports that a bipartisan bill has been negotiated, that hands $17 billion more dollars to the failed agency. Lawmakers from both sides of the isle hope to pass the bill before the August recess. $10 billion will be allocated to get veterans appointments with private doctors and hospitals when they cannot access the VA system. However, that is not the good news it appears to be.

This looks like it is meant to solve the problem that private providers are increasingly unwilling to see VA patients, because the VA does not pay its bills adequately or timely. So, the solution would be to give vouchers directly to vets, right? No such luck:

The most expensive part of the three-year measure would provide $10 billion for certain patients — who either live more than 40 miles from a department site or face a wait of more than 30 days for an appointment — to receive government-paid care from a private doctor. The private care would still largely be coordinated by the Department of Veterans Affairs, which in most cases would be involved in the scheduling and retain a copy of medical records from the visit, according to a person briefed on the provision.

So, veterans will not control the dollars spent on their care. Instead, newly empowered VA bureaucrats will “coordinate” their appointments for them. It looks suspiciously like private doctors and hospitals will have to link up with the VA’s electronic medical record (EMR) system to do so. How will that work out? Recall that the VA and the Department of Defense have tried and failed since 1997 to coordinate their EHRs.

Comments (12)

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  1. Steve says:

    “Coordinated” care, at least when the government is the coordinator, is never the way to improve healthcare. You simply end up with more of the problems the VA already has.

    A better solution would have been to give the vets vouchers right from the start, regardless of wait times, and have less coordination between the private doctors and the government.

    • James M. says:

      It obvious that the VA are already poor coordinators for healthcare. Empowering the vets and strengthening patient choice will improve access to care.

  2. SPM says:

    Rarely does throwing more money at a problem ever fix it. Taking away money forces the kinds of changed that are necessary for the entity to survive, or collapse. But then again, that’s the private sector. The public sector doesn’t need to be efficient enough to make a profit.

    • Jay says:

      “Rarely does throwing more money at a problem ever fix it.”

      Really SPM? I think obviously ObamaCare would fall into the success part of this category. At first, it was a complete failure, and now after more money being injected into it, it has millions of enrollees whose lives are changed!

      • SPM says:

        Obamacare is a success Jay? Well, that’s obviously what its proponents would argue. But maybe we ought to look to less politically motivated people to get a better sense of what effect its having.

        Let’s take employees. Employers now have incentives to reduce their full-time workforce to less than 50, or to reduce hours to part-time. Do you think those employees call Obamacare a success Jay?

        Or let’s take the several million people who were kicked off their previous insurance because it didn’t meet the administration’s definition of minimum coverage. Would the president’s lie that we could keep our coverage another success of Obamacare?

        I don’t think so. The socialist utopia has not been achieved. Instead, we’ve got a law that hurts the labor market, distorts the market even more than government and private insurance did before, pushes up costs, redistributes wealth, and leads to worse patient outcomes through rationed care (think VA).

        Is that your definition of success Jay? I’d hate to see what you think is a failure.

  3. bob hertz says:

    What if VA patients who were over age 65 (and not suffering complex combat injuries) were obligated to use Medicare?

    Would that ease the problem? It would not be hard to transfer funds from the VA to Medicare.

    I would guess that the ‘worried well’ use up a lot of VA doctor’s time, though I could be wrong.

  4. Thomas says:

    It amazes me that the VA gets awarded this type of money. We must ask ourselves, was the VA problems stemming from lack of funds? And if it was, don’t you think they would have lobbied for more funds before being exposed for failing our vets?

  5. Buddy says:

    The money should be awarded to the vets for having to suffer through all of this. I think either them or their loved ones can find better suitable care than the government can. Give them the power to choose!

    • Mr. Freedom says:

      Right on Buddy! People empowered to make their own choices is always the best bet for a free society.

      Progressives always think that people are too stupid to run their own lives and make their own healthcare choices. Funny how they never complain that voters are stupid when they vote for progressives though.

  6. Matthew says:

    “This looks like it is meant to solve the problem that private providers are increasingly unwilling to see VA patients, because the VA does not pay its bills adequately or timely.”

    Just more examples of the quality care people are receiving through the government. This is like giving gamblers more money and expecting them to use it wisely.

  7. Big Truck Joe says:

    That $17 billion put into vouchers for private health care coverage would fix the problem overnight. But alas, $17 B in private hands is anathema to this administration. Better to grow the bureaucracy that got us in this fix in the first place. When in doubt throw more money at it. Sounds a lot like my wife at Macys.

  8. John R. Graham says:

    It is done: President Obama signed the bill (