Thursday, February 28, 2019

Is your VA closing too?

Large-scale closures of VA facilities could be coming sooner than expected. Here’s why.

Military Times
By: Leo Shane III
February 27, 2019

WASHINGTON — Veterans Affairs’ version of a base closing round could start years ahead of schedule, department officials told Congress on Wednesday.
Veterans wait for their rides following treatment at the Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Medical Center in Seattle in March 2015. VA officials on Wednesday said an asset review set for 2022 could be moved up, to better gauge where medical facilities are needed. (Elaine Thompson/AP)
Under the VA Mission Act signed into law last year, the president is authorized to appoint an Asset and Infrastructure Review Commission for the department in 2022. To inform the group’s work, VA officials were given three years to perform regional market assessments across the country to determine areas where there were medical facility shortages, gluts and other challenges.

On Wednesday, VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said those assessments were delayed slightly late last year but could still be finished in the next 12 months. If so, that could create a problematic gap between collecting that information and starting evaluations in 2022.

“We’ll come back to you this summer and give you an assessment of where things are,” he said. “If we can, to meet the expectations of this committee and the changing need of veterans, we’re going to come to Congress and ask to move that timeline up.”

The idea of a base-closing-style round for VA has been controversial for many advocates, including lawmakers who could see major hospitals in their districts closed due to dwindling patient numbers.
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