The Government Accountability Office has said the Department of Veteran Affairs launched efforts to manage estimated costs and obligations to prevent future funding gaps following VA’s projected $2.75 billion budget shortfall in fiscal year 2015.
GAO said Friday obligations for hepatitis C drugs and VA’s care in the community programs accounted for $408 million and $2.34 billion of the funding gap, respectively.
VA applied new policies that direct VA medical center and Veterans Integrated Service Networks to use historical data in CIC cost estimation; compare CIC estimated costs with estimated obligations; address discrepancies and certify whether these steps were taken each month, GAO added.
GAO further noted VA distributed funds for CIC and hepatitis C drugs across VAMCs and began comparing each center’s obligations in the two areas against allocated funds to determine if obligations match financial resources.
The VA also added FY 2015 data into the projection it uses to estimate budgets in three to four years to reflect increased CIC utilization, GAO said.
GAO said despite VA’s efforts, challenges remain in health care services utilization such as the Veterans Choice Program — a CIC initiative which faces enrollment delays that could impact utilization estimates for fiscal years 2016 and 2017.