2014 was a particularly tragic year for the VA. A thorough investigation was launched, bringing the VA’s ignorance and malpractice to a screeching halt. Then Secretary of Veteran Affairs Eric Shineski resigned and was replaced by Robert McDonald, who continues to hold the title today. Though they were confusing, promises were made.
But, as of June 2015, promises haven’t been kept.
On June 20th, 2015, the New York Times reported that wait times at VA healthcare facilities are 50% longer now than they were in 2014, a statistic the VA blames on the influx of patients. In that same article, it was said that the VA is also facing a $2.7 billion shortfall in its budget. Which means: in order to narrow that gap, the VA may enforce furloughs and hiring freezes, actions that could weaken the VA that much more and make those wait times even longer.
So, what’s the solution? How can we get our veterans the healthcare that they need and in a timeframe where they neither have to suffer or need to worry? Is there a solution?
The answer, contrary to what seems to be the belief of the VA, is not money. That doesn’t mean that $168.8 billion has been requested for next year’s VA budget. The answer, as many believe, is accountability. In this article and video from CNBC, Rep. Dan Benishek, R-Michigan, sheds light on not only the annual budget increase for the VA, but on the chaos within the VA when it comes to leadership and accuracy. For example, Benishek said:
“At the VA, you put billions of dollars in and there’s no way to find out what it costs to see the average patient… So is it costing (the) VA a lot more than the private sector or a lot less? They won’t tell us.”