VA finally shifting focus to helping veterans first

As more and more reports pour in of neglect endangering veterans – and sometimes costing them their lives – at Department of Veterans Affairs health care facilities, the agency finally is looking less at damage control for itself and more at helping veterans.

VA Secretary Eric Shinseki announced last week the agency will make it easier for some veterans to obtain medical care in the private sector, at government expense. That may get some in need of immediate care off VA waiting lists.

This is merely an expansion of an existing program. Each year, the VA spends about $4.8 billion on health care at private facilities.

But the expansion may divert VA money from other veterans’ needs. To avoid that, Congress should consider whether the agency needs a temporary supplemental appropriation.