#VAFail – VA Overpays Outside Providers to the Tune of $17 Million
The VA doesn’t exactly have a great track record when it comes to responsible spending. In the past the department has blown money on solar panels that were never used, tried to pay nearly $10 million to build 25 parking spots, and spent nearly $2 billion so far on a new hospital that’s still unfinished.
Now a new report says the VA in Florida has overpaid outside health care providers by more than $17 million. The Office of Inspector General (OIG) first found out about the overpayments in October of 2014 when someone contacted the VA hotline about 55 potential overpayments.
When veterans get health care outside of the VA system, hospitals and doctors are supposed to be reimbursed at Medicare rates. When the OIG looked into it, they discovered the VA paid full price in 52 of the 55 examples the tipster provided. The overpayments totaled over $28,000.
Armed with that information, the OIG opened up the scope of the investigation. Investigators looked at every payment made to non-VA health care providers for “physician-administered drugs” like chemotherapy.
They discovered that between 2012 and 2016, one out of every three claims the Florida VA claims processing center handled were overpaid. The VA made over 26,000 overpayments totaling around $17 million. In one case, the VA overpaid a claim by almost $50,000.
“These funds could have been more effectively spent on veteran care,” the report concludes.
The OIG is right. Far too often money that should be used ensuring veterans get the best care possible is spent on things like artwork.
Reform is desperately needed to stop this kind of wasteful spending. It’s clear from this example that the VA’s issues not resources issues but rather management and oversight. VA Secretary Shulkin has recently announced plans to tackle waste, fraud and abuse within the VA, and those moves will hopefully eradicate excessive wasteful spending.