Northville, MI (Law Firm Newswire) June 15, 2017 – Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary David Shulkin announced that the agency is considering a plan to close more than 1,100 facilities across the country as it moves toward allowing a larger number of veterans to access private sector health care.
Shulkin told a House hearing that the department has identified 735 underused facilities. There are also 430 empty buildings, most of which were constructed around 90 years ago. The VA secretary told lawmakers that closing them would save the government around $25 million annually. However, he did not specify which locations would be shut down.
“It is understandable that aging buildings serve no purpose and are likely to cost considerable time, money and resources to replace,” said Jim Fausone, a Michigan veterans attorney. “However, the VA should be careful not to hastily close facilities that actually serve veterans. If they do decide to close such buildings, they should ensure veterans’ access to health care is not affected.”
Shulkin said the VA and Congress would work together to review buildings for possible closure. He also said the department was mulling the use of a process along the lines of Base Realignment and Closure, or BRAC. The Pentagon used BRAC in the past to determine which underutilized military bases should be closed.
However, the BRAC process has been controversial. It raised concerns among members of Congress about the negative financial impact of closing military bases in their districts. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Nebraska, a vice chair of the House Appropriations Committee, cautioned Shulkin to avoid using “the term BRAC because it brings up a lot of bad memories.”
Fortenberry said Congress would work “constructively” with the VA to determine how their aging buildings could serve the community. For example, they could be used for landscape upkeep, security or firefighting.
According to The Associated Press (AP), internal VA data indicates around 57 percent of all VA facilities are over 50 years old. “We want to stop supporting our use of maintenance of buildings we don’t need, and we want to reinvest that in buildings we know have capital needs,” said Shulkin.
Learn more at http://www.legalhelpforveterans.com
Legal Help for Veterans, PLLC
41700 West Six Mile Road, Suite 101
Northville, MI 48168
Toll Free Phone: 800.693.4800
- VA aims to reduce veteran suicide with new predictive technology
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) launched a new program designed to identify veterans who are at risk of suicide. With an average of 20 veterans taking their lives each day, the agency is hoping their efforts will help reduce the number of suicides. The system is called Recovery Engagement and Coordination for Health — […]
- New VA website shares hospital wait time data, promises more accountability
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) on April 12 unveiled a new website with the goal of providing more transparency to veterans. The agency is making public data about the amount of time veterans are waiting for treatment and the quality of care at its medical facilities. Veterans can visit the website, to view information […]
- More focus needed on physical health effects of PTSD, says study
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has long been considered a psychological condition. However, researchers are now saying it should be viewed as a systemic disorder that can also take a damaging toll on bodily health. A new study has found that adults with PTSD are at a higher risk of suffering a broad range of health […]
- Drug maker fined $19.8 million for overcharging the VA
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has been overcharged for several drugs for nearly a decade, resulting in a steady decrease of financial resources that should have gone to veterans’ care. A French pharmaceutical company will pay $19.8 million in fines to resolve allegations that it incorrectly billed the VA for certain medications. “Overcharging VA […]