Hundreds of thousands of dollars are wasted each month to pay veterans for coming to their medical appointments. This leads to many veterans falsifying their addresses to increase the amount of money they will receive and making daily, unnecessary healthcare appointments for the sole purpose of receiving pay. The latter seriously and needlessly overburdens our healthcare system leading to the need for more staff, which requires additional government funding. More importantly, it significantly hurts those veterans who genuinely need, and appropriately utilize, the services we provide as it slows down the entire process of being seen and leads to longer periods of time between appointments as the available slots become filled with patients who are not actually ill or in crisis but need documentation that they attended an appointment to get travel pay.
As a solution, I propose that the VA develop its own small transportation system to accommodate veterans for whom travel is truly a hardship. VA transportation would be solely used to get veterans to and from the hospital, not for any other purpose, as this is the original intention behind the travel pay system. This would create new VA jobs for veterans and would be much less expensive than hiring additional healthcare professionals to deal with the demand on our resources caused by those patients who make appointments only to receive travel pay. Additionally, it would save the government hundreds of thousands of dollars each month that will no longer go toward travel pay, and will improve the efficiency of our healthcare system, which will ultimately benefit both veterans and staff.