Donnelly says Indiana's VA sites not as troubled

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U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly says administrators at Indiana's VA hospitals have told him they don't have the same kind of troubles as the 26 veterans facilities across the country facing complaints about long waits and backlogs.

Donnelly, a Democrat, said during a visit Monday to Lafayette for Memorial Day ceremonies that officials must review "every single detail" of upcoming reports about allegations of falsified records and treatment delays. The Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers serve nearly 9 million veterans.

Donnelly told the Journal & Courier of Lafayette that Congress will "move heaven and earth" to make sure that veterans get the medical care they deserve.

Donnelly is also pushing a measure for annual mental health assessments for military personnel in an attempt to reduce the number of suicides.

On Saturday, the Obama administration said it would allow more veterans to get care at private hospitals, a move that could take some pressure off backlogged Veterans Affairs facilities struggling to cope with new patients from the wars on terrorism as well as old soldiers from prior conflicts.

Agreeing to recommendations from lawmakers, the administration said it will allow more veterans to obtain treatment at private hospitals and clinics in an effort to improve care.

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki also said VA facilities are enhancing capacity of their clinics so veterans can get care sooner. In cases where officials cannot expand capacity at VA centers, the Department of Veterans Affairs is "increasing the care we acquire in the community through non-VA care," Shinseki said.

Lawmakers from both parties have pressed for this policy change as the VA confronts allegations about treatment delays and falsified records at VA centers nationwide.

The department's inspector general says 26 VA facilities are under investigation, including the Phoenix VA hospital, where a former clinic director says as many as 40 veterans may have died while awaiting treatment.

Officials also are investigating claims that VA employees have falsified appointment records to cover up delays in care. An initial review of 17 people who died while awaiting appointments in Phoenix found that none of their deaths appeared to have been caused by delays in treatment.

The allegations have raised fresh concerns about the administration's management of a department that has been struggling to keep up with the influx of veterans returning home from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Vietnam veterans needing more care as they age.

The directive announced Saturday should make it easier for veterans to get medical care at non-VA facilities, according to an agency spokeswoman.

The VA spent about $4.8 billion last year on medical care at non-VA hospitals and clinics, spokeswoman Victoria Dillon said. That amounts to about 10 percent of health care costs for the Veterans Health Administration, the agency's health care arm.

It was not clear how much the new initiative would cost, Dillon said.

Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla, chairman of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee, welcomed Shinseki's announcement, but questioned why it took so long. Reports about the veterans at the Phoenix hospital surfaced more than a month ago.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has called for the VA to allow more veterans to receive medical care at private hospitals. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said this past week that she was open to the idea of medical care at private hospitals.


  • vets need help
    i have rented a apt. to a disabled vet, these vets get some of the things they need,but the v.a. can do more.they ask people to help the vets and then this happens the va workers social helpers drop the ball. some of these vets can not clean their own living facilities and the va does not help them.this is wrong,if y-ou start something to help the vets.then continue to follow through with helping these ex-soldiers.. do the complete job,just not half way,please someone get this message and do something about it..alot of them need help in all different ways..we enjoy freedom let these soldiers do the same...please...
  • For GM
    Sadly, you have absolutely no clue when it comes to the Veterans Administration Healthcare System. I am betting that you never served a single day in the military or in combat. I do receive care from the Indianapolis VA Hospital System and I could not be happier with the care from physicians and the caring staff members at the VA. Sequestration hurt the VA Hospital System as well as our men and women currently serving in the military. The current problems within the VA System were created when our government agreed to fund trillions of dollars for two useless wars while forgetting to fund the VA System that would be required to care for returning men and women who will require healthcare services for years to come. Look no further than the House of Representatives for what is ailing the VA System.
  • GM
    Turn off Fox News and you will realize that that PRIVATE insurance companies are the basis of the ACA.
  • GOP Senators Blocked Bill
    Back in February GOP Senators blocked a bill that would have funded more services for veterans. Even though majority in Senate supported the bill, the minority GOP abused the filibuster once again and gave the following excuse: “This bill proposes to spend more than we agreed to spend,” Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said before raising the budget point of order. “This bill creates new veterans’ programs and it’s not paid for — it’s all borrowed money." --So even though GOP was willing to borrow money to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, they don't want to borrow to pay for the care of the veterans of those wars.
  • same old same old
    If mr Donnelly wants to know how good care is he should go find some of the veterans trying to get care at this hosp instead of going by what the people running the place getting bonuses tell him.Typical politician
  • VA - sad
    Sad...it was Indianapolis VA that seen a family member for 2 yrs, did not treat him for bladder cancer. Now his prescriptions are so high outside of VA, can't get an appt to see a dr for writing the Rx's. This was before the Obamacare.
  • Rheumatologist
    @ Home Grown: Perhaps these could be of service: http://doctor.webmd.com/find-a-doctor/rheumatologist/indiana/fort-wayne
  • Bad judgement
    Perhaps before voting for Obamacare, which is the first step towards government's takeover of our health care, Senator Donnelly should have been paying attention to the government health care our veterans are receiving. Waiting lists, death panels...it's our future, thanks to Donnelly
    • Funding
      Lets hope not. This comes down to a lack of funds. The Fort Wayne/Marion VA Hospitals do not have even one Rheumatologist and patients have to drive to Indianapolis.

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