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Boustany bashes VA 'bureaucracy'

Last Modified: Tuesday, August 26, 2014 1:08 PM

John Guidroz / American Press

Rep. Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette, said he is going to keep a close eye on the six-month timeline that Department of Veterans Affairs officials said is needed in order to break ground on VA clinics in Lake Charles and Lafayette.

“I’m going to hold them to it,” Boustany told the American Press editorial board last week. “I’m going to be breathing down their necks to make sure that they keep to that because enough’s enough.”

Earlier this month, lawmakers approved a $17 billion veterans health reform package that includes $1.5 billion to lease 27 new clinics within the U.S., including facilities in Lake Charles and Lafayette.

Tammie Arnold, public affairs officer at the Alexandria VA Health Care System, said groundbreaking for both clinics should begin in six months. The Lake Charles clinic will be renovated, and the Lafayette clinic will be a new building.

Boustany said he has received “many” complaints about the VA not reimbursing doctors who are treating veterans. Paul Labbe, head of the Louisiana Veterans’ Advocacy Group, said a local psychiatrist has treated his post-traumatic stress disorder for years, but the VA wasn’t always billed.

Boustany said that Acadian Ambulance is “owed millions of dollars,” and that the VA is just “sitting” on that money. He said it is a “serious problem” that is affecting individual and larger health care providers.

“This is another problem with this bureaucracy,” he said. “Now the VA knows our delegation is on this. We’re really going to put the hammer to them.”

Boustany said the VA hasn’t given him a legitimate reason why the money has not been doled out.

“It’s a combination of lazy to ‘losing paperwork’ and that kind of stuff,” he said. “There’s really no excuse for it. It’s just blatant incompetence.”

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