Military Connection: VA’s $16.3b Won’t Last Long: By Debbie Gregory

VA MoneyThe U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is claiming that the $16.3 billion that was allotted through the Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act of 2014 (Veterans Choice Act) is not going to be enough to provide adequate care, long term.

VA Secretary Robert McDonald predicts that in the coming decades, Veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars will require even more care, possibly peaking 30 to 40 years from now. The VA’s leader said that the department will need more money to care for Veterans.

Many Americans believe that the seemingly huge sum allotted by the Veterans Choice Act was supposed to fix the VA and provide long-term healthcare for Veterans. But even though the wars seem to be winding down, the claims made by the Iraq and Afghanistan War-era Veterans will likely peak again in 40 years, and the duration of benefits will last even longer. McDonald noted that VA records show that there are still approximately 100 Veteran dependents from the Spanish-American War, and one dependent from a Civil War Veteran who still receive benefits.

The $16.3 billion allotted by the Veterans Choice Act is broken down into smaller provisions. The bill allots $10 billion for the utilization of private care at hospitals and clinics outside the VA, and $5 billion for the department to hire more doctors, nurses and other medical staff. The other $1.5 billion can be spent on leases to use other medical facilities at 27 sites around the country.

Back in July, before the Veterans Choice Act was approved, Sloan Gibson, who was acting-secretary, said that the VA needed $17.6 billion over the next three years to reform patient wait times at VA facilities. Note that Gibson’s amount was more than what the VA received, and it was estimated to fix the wait time issue only.

The next  request for funds by the VA could fall on deaf ears as lawmakers return to Washington to hammer out fiscal 2015 spending bills, with a look towards 2016.

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Military Connection: VA’s $16.3b won’t Last Long: By Debbie Gregory