U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) released the following statement regarding the resignation of Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki:
"The American people and our nation's veterans need reform at the VA, not just resignations. Further, more money is not the answer. Funding for the VA has grown at more than three times the rate of inflation since 2009. My office has also learned that at the end of Fiscal Year 2013, the VA held nearly $35 billion in unspent funds, which is more than the entire annual budget of the National Institutes of Health. It's long past time we gave our veterans the freedom they fought for. I look forward to introducing legislation with Senators McCain and Burr that will accomplish that goal in the coming days," Dr. Coburn said.
At the conclusion of Fiscal Year 2013, the VA held nearly $35 billion in unspent funds. To give this amount some perspective, the entire annual budget of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is $30.1 billion -- billions of dollars less than the excess amount the VA leaves unspent at the end of every year. The department is projected to end 2014 with another larger sum of unspent money, including nearly $5.9 billion in unobligated funds.
The VA "expects to carry over $450 million in medical-care funding from fiscal year 2014 to fiscal year 2015." This is the fifth year in a row the VA has carried over funding for medical care. VA carried over $1.449 billion in medical-care funding from fiscal year 2010 to 2011, $1.163 billion from fiscal year 2011 to fiscal year 2012, $637 million from fiscal year 2012 to 2013, and $543 million from fiscal year 2013 to 2014.