Biden administration's plan to close, build VA hospitals: 6 takeaways

The Biden administration released a plan March 14 to restructure the veterans' healthcare system, which includes the closure of hundreds of hospitals and clinics and the construction of several new facilities.

Six takeaways:

1. The plan would result in 140 more multispecialty community-based outpatient clinics, 48 more inpatient partnerships, 27 more standalone community living centers, 14 more healthcare centers, 14 outpatient partnerships and 12 more standalone residential rehabilitation treatment programs, according to The Washington Post. There would be three fewer VA medical centers, 86 fewer community-based outpatient clinics and 86 fewer other outpatient services clinics. 

2. The plan removes aging hospitals with unused inpatient beds but replaces them with inpatient and outpatient clinics nearby, according to the Post. Additionally, while some facilities may lose services like emergency care or surgeries, they may gain mental health or urgent-care clinics. New nursing homes will also be built in areas where veterans are moving, primarily in the South and Southwest.

3. The proposal is driven by a main force: The Department of Veterans Affairs is spending billions of dollars to maintain old facilities, according to the Post. About 70 percent of the VA's healthcare facilities were built more than 50 years ago. The health system needs $61.6 billion for construction.

4. Additionally, veterans are moving to different locations and are in need of different care, according to the Post. The veteran population is decreasing in the Northeast and parts of the Midwest but increasing in the South and Southwest. Many will need more outpatient and long-term support, like nursing home care. The VA predicts more veterans will live in rural areas and will have more chronic health conditions. Additionally, there is expected to be a growth in female veterans, who need gynecological care.

5. Some lawmakers are opposed to the plans to close several facilities, such as Sen. Jon Tester of Montana. "I will fight tooth and nail against any proposals that blindly look to reduce access to VA care or put our veterans at a disadvantage," he said in a statement, according to the Post.

6. The proposal will be sent to the Asset and Infrastructure Review Commission. If lawmakers disagree with the proposal, Congress will have to take a vote, in which lawmakers must accept all of the changes or none, according to the Post.

Read more here.

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