Hospitals continued bonus payouts amid VA scandal

In the wake of the Veterans Affairs (VA) scandal involving cover ups over treatment delays and the subsequent resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, VA leaders in several states received substantial bonuses despite the systemic problems.

Ohio VA hospital employees received more than $6 million in bonuses in the past year, according to an analysis by the Dayton Daily News, with one VA doctor in Dayton receiving a bonus in both 2013 and 2014 even after the VA settled a malpractice claim naming her for $300,000. Although overall bonus payouts dropped about $1 million between 2013 and federal fiscal year 2014, the average 2014 bonus was $700, with 20 topping $5,000, according to the article.

An Associated Press investigation found similar payouts in the New Mexico VA system. The New Mexico VA awarded its director nearly $9,000 in 2013, and almost 100 more employees received more than $2.4 million. The payments were made despite the New Mexico system's admission that during this period, nearly 3,000 patients were assigned doctors they were never able to see in person.

The District of Columbia topped the list of cities with high VA bonus payouts with more than $9.25 million, according to an analysis by DisabledVeterans.org, which used data compiled by USA Today. It was followed by Ann Arbor, Michigan, in second place with payouts of $390,000, and Bay Pines, Florida, with $365,000.

The VA has recommended the removal of four senior VA officials, but Sharon Helman, director of the problem-plagued Phoenix facility that launched the nationwide scandal, was not among them, according to the Arizona Capitol Times.

VA Secretary Robert McDonald seeks to fill gaps in the system by recruiting medical and nursing students. He is in the midst of a recruitment tour stopping in California, North Carolina and Vermont, with more visits planned in Boston and Maryland, according to the AP.

To learn more:
- read the Daily News article
- here's the first AP article
- here's the DisabledVeterans.org analysis
- check out the Capitol Times article
- read the second AP article

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