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Veterans' Affairs fails to use $1.9 billion in health care money

The private health care program of the Veterans Health Administration was recently audited, and it was discovered that in 2013, the department did not spend 40 percent of its budget money earmarked for care given outside the VA. That 40 percent amounts to $1.9 billion.

The audit also revealed that VA medical center administrators incorrectly estimated the amount of money required to pay for veterans' outside care. From October 2013 through March 2015, administrators inflated their estimations by $543 million, meaning that this money could not be used for VA patient care.

The audit results come after reports of the VA mishandling the discipline of its administrators accused of wrongdoing. They also follow widespread problems of veterans needing to wait for extended periods of time before they can receive much-needed medical care.

Why are veterans waiting so long for benefits if there is $1.9 billion in unspent money sitting around? The VA claims that it failed to spend the $1.9 billion because VA administrators failed to give medical directors sufficient means to estimate costs. Furthermore, the VA says that medical center staff members were never tasked with adjusting past cost estimates to reflect current costs.

One veterans advocacy group is demanding change. The group says that it has been trying to get the VA health system completely overhauled and partially privatized. The group claims that the VA "is not truly invested" in providing much-needed medical care options to veterans.

The fact is, many veterans throughout the nation are waiting for the benefits they deserve. In a lot of cases, these veterans can get assistance from a veterans benefits attorney to help them overcome challenges, resolve deficiencies and successfully navigate the complicated benefits claims process.

Source: Military Times, "VA failed to spend $1.9 billion designated for health care, report finds," Patricia Kime, Jan. 12, 2016

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