VA medical job vacancies hurting veterans

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THE Veterans Health Administration has 41,500 job vacancies for doctors, nurses and other medical professionals across its 150-hospital system.

According to records obtained and analyzed by USA Today, the failure to fully staff hospitals is one reason why the VA paid for 1.5 million veterans to see doctors outside the agency in the past year. Those private visits have cost U.S. taxpayers more than $7.7 billion.

 The Defense Department warned Congress that it could run out of money as early as this week to cover outside treatment for troops and dependents.

Thankfully, on Thursday of last week Congress pumped $3.3 billion into the VA budget to alleviate the problem, and also to avoid shutting down VA hospitals.

Despite a widely publicized effort by the VA to recruit medical professionals, the VA is competing in a tough market. One reason is President Obama’s expanded health insurance program has made medical personnel more in demand. Another factor is an annual 9 percent attrition rate.

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