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Federal agency to audit Haley

TAMPA —The Department of Veterans Affairs has ordered a financial audit of the James A. Haley VA Medical Center after reports the facility has struggled to close multi-million-dollar deficits the last three years.

The review will be conducted by the agency's Management Quality Assurance Service and auditors will visit Haley for a week in January, according to documents obtained by the St. Petersburg Times.

Haley and VA officials with oversight of the audit did not respond to requests for comment on Thursday.

Auditors plan to interview business employees at Haley, which is one of the nation's busiest veterans hospitals, and will examine a wide range of financial records, documents show.

The Times has published a series of stories this year on Haley's tumultuous finances.

It took a $28.7 million cash infusion from a regional VA reserve fund to cover a deficit at the end of fiscal 2011, which ended Sept. 30.

Haley's leaders took "emergency measures" to eliminate the deficit, while denying that those measures would impact veteran care.

Still, some veterans have complained about difficulties getting the facility to pay for some types of medical care.

Haley, for example, cut access to a program in which the VA pays for a veteran's treatment outside the VA in cases in which the VA does not offer a service, is too busy or in emergencies, documents show.

This program is called "fee basis."

Haley spokespersons have denied making budget cuts, denied operating under a deficit and denied cuts to "fee basis" spending, in spite of budget documents contradicting their statements.

Reach William R. Levesque at levesque@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3432.

Federal agency to audit Haley 11/10/11 [Last modified: Thursday, November 10, 2011 11:16pm]
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