U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald says his department is making progress in rebuilding trust lost in last year’s scandal involving manipulated wait times and falsified waiting lists. In a visit to Indiana Thursday, McDonald pointed to the Indianapolis facility as a leader in what he calls the VA’s “transformation.”
McDonald says the disability claims backlog has been reduced by 80 percent over the past couple of years, and the VA has completed more than 7 million more appointments this year than last year.
Veterans currently use the VA about 37 percent of the time for their healthcare needs, and McDonald says as the department improves, more veterans will use it, meaning the VA needs to prepare to respond to higher demand.
“For every one percent increase, one percentage point increase, that adds a need of about a billion and a half dollars to our budget,” McDonald said.
The VA Secretary says he’s confident Congress will deliver funding flexibility to help the VA address those growing needs.
And McDonald adds that with that money, the VA is focusing on increasing access to primary care. Indianapolis VA officials note that adding one primary care team – which includes a doctor, a nurse and clerical staff – can allow the VA to treat 1,200 more Hoosier veterans.