CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOWK) — There is more fallout Friday night, over a recommendation that veterans’ health care be greatly scaled back here in West Virginia and elsewhere. It all stems from proposed VA cuts in the nation’s capital. West Virginia’s population may be declining, but veterans still account for about 8% of the state’s population.
A report issued by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is recommending that three of the VA medical centers be greatly scaled back. They are the VA Hospitals in Clarksburg, Huntington, and Beckley. Emergency rooms, surgeries, and most inpatient services would go away, and the facilities would operate more like “urgent care” clinics. There are concerns about the impact on economic development efforts in the long run and medical care in the short term.
“This is going to have a significant impact, how our veterans get their benefits. One of the biggest benefits is the health care,” said Secretary Ted Diaz, WV Dept. of Veterans Assistance.
“What we need to do on a state level is to ensure that we are doing all that we can to make West Virginia the most attractive state possible for veterans who have retired, to move here,” said State Sen. Ryan Weld, (R) Brooke – Chair, Military Committee.
There are also concerns that the hospital cuts could send more patients to smaller VA medical outpatient clinics that are scattered around the state. Many believe those facilities are already over-burdened and sending them more patients could affect the quality of care.
The Military Order of the Purple Heart also opposes the cuts, saying the cuts will, “not be keeping the promise made to our service members by taking such actions and forcing our veterans to travel or accept substandard healthcare resources.”
Veterans groups are already lobbying the state’s Congressional delegation to halt the proposed cuts.