RI Division of Veterans Affairs Receives Over $41 Million More in Federal State Aid Over Previous Fiscal Year
The RI Department of Human Services/Veterans Affairs operations budget increased by $41.4 million, and almost all of it comes from additional federal funding. (FY 18 RI State Budget>> "Budget Volume II Human Services,">> "Complete Volume II Health & Human Services">> pages 107-111.)
Last year, the RI Dept. of Veterans Affairs received just over $18 million in federal funding... the year prior, it was under $8 million. This year under a new administration, they have received $59,747,578 in federal funding, (+$536,367, personnel, -1 FTE.)
The majority of the federal funding is being allocated to "capital purchases and equipment," totaling $40,588,000.
An additional $900K is going to "design and engineering services."
"Medical services" expenses remain relatively level funded.
Recently, the Department of Veterans Affairs resumed its Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers after taking a temporary 3 month review step back, to evaluate strengths and weaknesses of the program. Service enhancements needed to be made to improve the lives and veterans, including additional VA staff training. More about this story can be can be found by clicking: here.
Latest report from the Office of the Inspector General reveals veteran opioid addiction is on the rise, especially for those suffering from chronic pain and mental illness attributable to PTSD. The study also found that prescribing communication is very lax between the VA and the private healthcare sector, increasing the risk for opioid use and/or diversion amongst veterans and/or their caregivers.
RI already has a serious problem when it comes to physician utilization of the state's Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, which has a 30% usage compliance rate. Now factor in this additional risk with veterans, and one can only wonder what and if the state is doing anything about both issues?
When I look at this massive increase in federal funding, the first thing I ask myself is how will -- $40 million in "capital purchases and equipment" -- improve and protect the lives of 35 thousand veterans receiving services at the Providence VA?