VA remains at 'high risk' of waste, mismanagement. This bill aims to change that.

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Photo credit Photo courtesy of IAVA
By Connecting Vets

The Veterans Health Administration is the largest healthcare system in the United States. But it is still classified as "high risk" for waste and mismanagement by the Government Accountability Office. Two Congressmen want to change that.

Rep. Chris Pappas, D-N.H., and Rep. Jack Bergman, R-Mich., introduced the Reducing High Risk to Veterans Services Act, aiming to improve management and care at the VHA so that it can get off the GAO's list of high-risk federal government programs most susceptible to waste, mismanagement and fraud. 

The bill would require greater accountability and transparency, the Congressmen said in their news release about the bill, including: 

  • Establishing a three-year plan to address the high-risk list;
  • Provide regular updates to Congress on the plan's progress;
  • Alert Congress on any action VHA needs it to take for more funding or other assistance.

“It is unacceptable that the health network responsible for providing care to more than 9 million of our nation’s veterans has remained on the ‘high-risk list’ of federal agencies prone to waste and mismanagement,” Pappas said in a statement. “We must ensure our government is always striving to take constructive steps to better serve our veterans. We made a solemn promise to veterans, and the (bill) ensures the VA has the plan and tools required to deliver on that promise.”

Bergman said the bill "will improve accountability and urgency within the VA - two principles essential to ensuring our Veterans are receiving the care and benefits they deserve ... The GAO recommendations cannot be ignored, and – as the legislation specifies – we must address the 'root causes' of systemic issues that arise." 

The VHA has an annual operating cost of more than $84.1 billion and since 2010, GAO has made 343 recommendations related to health care. Of those, 125 have not been fully implemented. 

Over the last three years, VA said it has taken steps to address the issues GAO has noted, including modernizing IT support, making policies easier to understand and implement and strengthening oversight and accountability by creating the Office of Integrity, VA spokeswoman Susan Carter told Connecting Vets Friday. 

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Reach Abbie Bennett: abbie@connectingvets.com or @AbbieRBennett.

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