#VAFail – Northport VA Allegedly Using Veterans to Increase Funding
On the heels of news that the VA is only filling half of its available appointments despite long wait times, VA employees in New York may be using precious time to boost their clinic’s funding instead of caring for veterans.
The Washington Examiner reports that employees at the VA clinic in Northport, New York are accusing their employer of using veterans as “cash cows” to increase their funding.
According to emails and internal documents shown to the Examiner, hospital employees were instructed to reconnect with 2,100 veterans over the phone to increase their number of “billable visits” in 2016. Doing so would help the Northport facility get more funding because phone calls to discuss medical issues count as visits.
Some employees claimed this endeavor, the “patient engagement project,” was an attempt to raise $9 million. According to one document, “Northport had reached 445 veterans as of early September 2016, which ensured $843,129 in funding.”
Some employees were rightfully upset with this alleged plan. The Examiner reports:
Some employees were asking if the plan was ethical. One employee said several workers in the VA were “visibly uneasy” about the idea. “Are other VA’s doing this to fix a deficit?” one worker asked.
“I don’t foresee one penny going towards veterans other than adding to the slush fund for [management’s] excess and more art work,” another said.
While these allegations have not been confirmed, they come as no surprise considering the VA’s history of misreporting data and reputation for mismanagement. In March of 2017, the VA Inspector General found “widespread inaccuracies” in reporting wait times at VA facilities in Virginia and North Carolina. That report emerged after several years’ worth of similar reports around the country.
If true, the Northport allegations would be only the latest reminder of the VA’s record of failure. The VA health care system needs to change so the care of veterans is always the institution’s top priority – not funding.