In an effort to respond to criticism that the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has subjected veterans to excessive and potentially deadly waits for care, the VA has announced that it will increase veteran access to private hospitals and clinics.
As reported in the Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post, Washington Post, and other media outlets, the May 24 announcement from VA Secretary Eric Shinseki stated that VA centers are enhancing capacity wherever possible, and that in areas where expansion isn't an option, the agency will increase use of non-VA care.
In 2013, about 10% of the department's spending—$4.8 billion—was for non-VA care. The recent announcement did not include cost estimates for the increase in use.
Critics of the VA say that delays in care have become excessive, that the delays themselves were covered up, and that in some cases patients died while waiting for care. An initial review has not revealed an instance in which a delay resulted in a patient's death, according to the VA.
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