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The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) has alerted the President and Congress to significant financial mismanagement at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), including more than $223 million in wasteful spending and delayed payments for veterans' medical bills. A whistleblower alerted OSC to the problems, and a VA investigation largely substantiated the allegations. The investigation found a “gross waste of funds" within one of its transportation services programs, as well as failure by the VA to reimburse some community healthcare providers, resulting in veterans losing care and being referred to collection agencies.
The VA made multiple recommendations in response to the findings on delayed medical care reimbursements, including:
To date, the VA reports it has implemented an Electronic Claims Adjudication Management System in five facilities and expects full deployment by the end of this month. It has also launched a campaign to educate community providers on submitting claims and expects to hire additional support staff by March 2020.
In response to overpayments for transportation services, the VA intends to improve its outdated financial management system, launched in 1992, which frequently fails to catch overpayments or improper charges. If improvements are not possible, the VA will seek a replacement system. The VA has also developed an action plan to reduce improper payments to legally required levels by fiscal year 2022.
“The VA's waste of more than $220 million on unnecessary transportation is unacceptable," said Special Counsel Henry J. Kerner. “Moreover, no veteran deserves to be hounded by a collection agency because the VA failed to pay its bills. I am encouraged, however, by the VA's response and that the agency is now taking strong steps to ensure these problems are addressed."