Committee Skeptical Of Extra VA Funding, Citing Ballooning Staff Size

Bob Brewin | | July 24, 2014

Members of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee expressed reluctance today to approve a $17.6 billion Veterans Affairs supplemental funding request for additional clinical staff and expanded facilities, in part, because the size of the Veterans Health Administration’s central office staff jumped more than tenfold from the mid-1990s to 2012.  Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson testified before the committee the extra funding he requested last week will go a long way toward resolving resource issues that have left veterans seeking care stuck in wait-list limbo.

An article published today in the New England Journal of Medicine, written by Dr. Ken Kizer who served as VA undersecretary for health in the 1990s, and Dr. Ashish K. Jha, who works in the Boston VA hospital, reported, “Inadequate numbers of primary care providers, aged facilities, overly complicated scheduling processes, and other difficult challenges have thwarted the VA's efforts to meet soaring demand for services.”

But Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., chairman of the committee, said he would not buy in to the administration's budget request based on that same article. The size of the central VHA office, which oversees “nearly every aspect of care delivery,” has “grown markedly — from about 800 in the late 1990s to nearly 11,000 in 2012," the article reported...