09.09.18

SCHUMER REVEALS: FEDS HAVE NO CLEAR PLAN TO FILL MORE THAN 45,000 VACANT VA HEALTHCARE JOBS, INCLUDING ABOUT 2,000 ACROSS NYS IN PLACES LIKE NYC & LI; SENATOR UNVEILS PUSH TO FILL POSTS & PREVENT VETS FROM WAITING IN LINE FOR POSSIBLY MONTHS TO RECEIVE MENTAL HEALTH CARE, CANCER TREATMENT & MORE-- LIVES ARE AT STAKE

Feds Just Released Jaw-Dropping Report Over Past Holiday Weekend That Shows VA Shortages May Be Undermining Veteran Medical Care, Even In NYC & LI  

On Heels Of Report, Schumer Pushing To Deliver Surge Of Additional $750 million For VA In-House Medical Services In Upcoming Spending Bill – $49.9 Billion In Total; Calls On VA To Commit To Filling The Critical Jobs ASAP & Update Congress

Schumer: The Evidence Is Overwhelming That NY Veterans Are Not Getting The Care They Deserve—And We Must Act

On the heels of a new jaw-dropping report from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs that revealed more than 45,000 critical VA jobs are unfilled, risking the care of New York’s 800,000 veterans, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer is unveiling a new push to fill these most critical jobs, deliver new federal dollars to VA health care and then hold the VA accountable to action. Otherwise, if the numbers don’t improve, Schumer worries vets could be waiting for months to receive both critical and routine care.

“The point is a simple one: our veterans should not have to fight a war with the VA to receive the kind of health care they both need and deserve,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “To know that there are forty-five thousand critical jobs, most in the Veterans Health Administration, unfilled is unacceptable and demands immediate action. That is why when we get back to Washington this week I will be making an all-out push to lock in new federal dollars for the VA so they can use the dollars to fill these jobs before vets’ care really suffers. And I will hold them to this demand, especially if they are to receive this surge in dollars.”

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs released data on vacancies as required under the MISSION ACT on August 31, 2018. The VA reported a total of 45,239 overall vacancies at the department. Within the overall number of vacancies, 40,456 are in the Veterans Health Administration. New York has more than 1,800 of these vacancies, the majority of which are in New York City and Long Island.

Schumer detailed New York City-area job vacancies below and his plan to address them:

NYS VA Medical Facilities

Vacancy Total

BRONX

333

NEW YORK NY

580

NORTHPORT LONG ISLAND

175


 

Under Schumer’s plan, the upcoming Senate appropriations Bill would include a new surge of fed dollars for in-house medical care at the VA—roughly $750 million. The surge would bring the total appropriation for the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs to almost $50 billion. Schumer today said that he is demanding the VA use these upcoming funds to come up with a pan to fill the vacancies and report the progress to Congress.

“Our vets do not deserve to stand in line to get critical mental health or treatment of cancer, even a common cold,” said Schumer. “That is why we have to demand the VA use these dollars to fill these health care jobs.”

According to reports, the large number of vacancies threaten efforts to combat suicide among veterans, too.

The American Legion, a U.S. war veteran’s organization, voiced concern over the large number of vacancies and suggested that “the shortage of employees can lead to overworked staff, poor patient experiences and lower quality of care”. According to the American Legion, exemplary patient care within the VA care network has been shown to decrease the risk of suicide. Additionally, the American Legion surveyed veterans about their experience at the VA department; 54 percent of surveyed veterans “stated that the process of getting mental health care was burdensome, and 49 percent stated that it was not easy to schedule an appointment”. Moreover, 77 percent of veterans said that the VA needed to improve veteran care.

Low staffing levels at the VHA have also negatively impacted the Caregiver Assistance Program, which is a part of VA’s Caregiver Support Program. The program provides a monthly stipend to the caregivers of qualifying veterans and relies on caregiver support coordinators (CSCs). Caregiver Support Coordinators monitor veterans’ well-being, ensure that caregivers receive adequate support, and are responsible for the discharge process. According to a report published by the VA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG), veterans were being inappropriately and unnecessarily discharged from the program. The faulty discharge process is attributed to Caregiver Support Coordinators and their inability to meet the demands of their jobs because of low staffing levels.

Schumer concluded today that tomorrow morning, he would be making this issue and the federal appropriation of VA dollars in the upcoming minibus spending Bill amongst his top priorities of the week.

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