VA tells Congress COVID-19 could affect 20 percent of its patients, asks for more money

Abbie Bennett
March 16, 2020 - 6:46 pm
VA

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The Department of Veterans Affairs plans to ask Congress for more emergency cash after telling lawmakers as many as one in five of its veteran patients could need additional care because of COVID-19. 

Congressional staff told Connecting Vets that on March 16, VA leaders disclosed to lawmakers that VA planned to request an additional $16.6 billion in the next emergency supplemental bill. The additional funds are based on an assumption that 20 percent of its current patients may eventually need additional care because of the coronavirus outbreak. VA leaders told lawmakers that could be a worst-case scenario. 

VA also told lawmakers they may ask for more money for IT-related needs, but didn’t provide further details. 

VA officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

VA recently announced the first death of a veteran connected to the virus and since then VA began limiting visitors to its hospitals and clinics nationwide. It previously locked down visitation at its 134 nursing homes and 24 spinal-cord injury/disorder centers, which care for a total of 65,000 veterans vulnerable to the virus nationwide. 

About half of VA’s patients are older than 65, a population at increased risk for infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control. 

VA reported tracking at least 30 cases of veterans in 13 states as of March 16 and officials said VA had administered more than 100 tests. VA Press Secretary Christina Mandreucci previously told Connecting Vets VA has 3,000 tests on hand. 

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Reach Abbie Bennett: abbie@connectingvets.com or @AbbieRBennett.

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