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Accounting Flaws Found In Audit Of Va


Guest Berta

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From Ray B Davis----

VETERANS RESOURECES NETWORK

http://www.valaw.org

Accounting Flaws Found at VA

Associated Press | February 03, 2006

WASHINGTON - Eager to reduce spending, the Bush administration falsely

claimed savings of more than $1.3 billion in the Department of

Veterans Affairs to justify cuts to health care services,

congressional investigators say.

The report by the Government Accountability Office is the latest to

document funding woes at the VA, which currently offers health care to

7 million out of 24 million eligible veterans. It found that the

agency used misleading accounting methods and lacked documentation to

prove its claimed savings.

The audit, released Thursday, comes amid growing political debate

about streamlining veterans health care. In the last fiscal year, more

than 260,000 veterans considered to have higher incomes could not sign

up for services because of cost-cutting, a move decried by Democrats.

"It's unconscionable," said Rep. Lane Evans, D-Ill., the ranking

Democrat on the House Veterans' Affairs Committee, who requested the

audit. "Veterans needing health care are being penalized because of an

accounting deception promulgated by this administration."

In a written response, the VA acknowledged that its accounting

practices aren't "perfect" and should be improved. But it rejected the

report's finding that the agency was motivated simply "to fill the

budget gap."

"Proper stewardship of taxpayer resources requires that VA strive to

become more effective and more efficient in delivering timely,

high-quality health care for our veterans," wrote Gordon Mansfield,

deputy secretary of Veterans Affairs.

The GAO report found several flaws in VA's accounting to justify

smaller budget requests for the agency while claiming that the quality

of health care wasn't hurt. For instance, the VA:

-Lacked adequate documentation for $1.3 billion it reported as

"management efficiency savings" in fiscal years 2003 and 2004.

-Claimed savings of more than $3 million due to "efficiencies" from

reduced overtime and delayed hiring at VA offices without explaining

how the savings were achieved without a reduction in the quality of

service.

-Often double-counted savings from volume purchasing in government

contracts from year to year, resulting in overinflated figures. Audits

from the GAO and VA inspector general last year found the VA could

negotiate reduced prices totaling more than $1 billion.

"VA officials told us that the management efficiency savings assumed

were savings goals ... to fill the gap between the cost associated

with VA's projected demand for health care services and the amount the

president was willing to request," the GAO report stated.

In recent years, Bush's budgets have included proposals to require

some veterans to pay a portion of their care with co-payments, but

Congress has repeatedly rejected that idea.

Although Congress has increased VA's budget in recent years, the

agency found itself with a gaping budget hole last year and had to ask

Congress for emergency funding. Veterans groups and some lawmakers say

the agency's increases have been inadequate, but others say the agency

has to set priorities on who gets care.

Congress provided about $23.3 billion for VA medical services for this

fiscal year, above Bush's request, with about $1.2 billion set aside

for when VA declares the money is needed for an emergency.

In 1996 Congress ordered the agency to open health care to nearly all

veterans. However, lawmakers also gave authority to the VA secretary

to suspend enrollments as needed.

Sound Off...What do you think? Join the discussion.

Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material

may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

http://www.military.com/NewsContent/0,13319,86987,00.html

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Every time I read how the VA is trying to figure out ways to disallow VAMC services to Veterans, it comes to mind that no one and I mean no one is telling new recruites, that once they get out of service, if you have a job and are making a living and the job has it's own medical plan, you will more likely than not be turned away as being inelligable for medical services.

Now their talking about having to pay enrollment fees if your earnings are above the poverty level and who knows what is going to be charged next or further in the future. They will nickle and dime us until the cost of medical services would be no different than what HMO may give. The only thing being treated at the VA is only those with service connected diseases or injuries and even that may be treated on a case by case basis.

It would probably be something like the VA reimbersing you for medical treatment for your SC problem and seeing some contracted PCDr. to say when and if you need to see a specialist or not.

I don't know what they are going to do, but be assured it won't benefit the Veteran and people are going to think twice before the enlist into the military knowing that they will be protty much on their own devices when they get out for their medical needs.

I got to go, I'm getting riled up and I don't need to get that way, I don't have any meds to take as I need them for when I get this way. And as the HULK said, your making me angry and you don't want to make me angry. LoL B)

Jim S. :P

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