Will more money help veteran care at the VA

Robert J. Dole, VA Medical Center (KSN File Photo)

WICHITA, Kansas – This week the U.S. Senate voted to increase funding to the VA national system to the tune of $35 billion.

Practices and procedures, along with long wait times for some veterans, are still in question at the Wichita VA.

KSN is asking veterans, former hospital workers and lawmakers if more money will help.

“No,” says Bob, an Air Force veteran from Wichita. “I think they need to make some big changes, and more money is not necessarily the answer.”

Bob spoke with KSN on the condition of anonymity. He points to a VA bonus structure as a way, he believes, for VA hospitals to care less about getting care to veterans.

“You’re getting the administration to say, by not providing services to the veterans… Why do I need to spend money if I get a bonus at the end?” says Bob. “This can’t continue.”

The bonus structure is changing. Lawmakers in the U.S. House have voted to end VA bonuses. All of them through the year 2016.

Even as the bonus structure is being examined, lawmakers have still voted yes to add up to $35 billion to the VA.

“Would more money help?” asks Joan, a former VA nurse. “I don’t think money is the issue. We have to change the culture at the VA.”

As a former nurse at the Wichita VA, Joan, not her real name, says doctor care is not what it could or should be.

“In my opinion,” says Joan, “the whole culture needs to change. Our veterans get doctors who, at times, just don’t care. Our veterans deserve better.”

Senator Pat Roberts, a Republican from Kansas, says more money could cure some of the issues at the VA, nationwide. Roberts says an antiquated computer system for record keeping dates back to the 1990’s and it has to go.

Roberts points to a long waiting list, with some veterans waiting more than 90 days for care. He says a new computer record system could help get that list down, and move up care for veterans.

“And they were on a list and that’s largely just because the MS-DOS system doesn’t work that well,” says Roberts. “That’s way behind in regards to information technology.”

KSN continues to press for answers about long wait times, standard of care, VA responses and the need for answers in the wake of the VA scandal.

If you have a story idea, email craig.andres@ksn.com

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