VA Health Care:

VA's Planning for Potential Gulf Coast Hospitals

HRD-86-148BR: Published: Sep 30, 1986. Publicly Released: Sep 30, 1986.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO provided information on: (1) how the Veterans Administration (VA) develops service areas for new hospitals and whether it used this methodology when establishing the service areas for potential VA hospitals in Mobile, Alabama, and Okaloosa County, Florida; and (2) whether VA should adjust projected work loads for the potential facilities due to a high concentration of military retirees residing in Okaloosa County.

GAO found that: (1) VA did not have written guidance for its planners when they established the service areas for Mobile and Okaloosa County; (2) VA assumed that all veterans in a county would seek care at a new hospital if the county's population center were closer to the potential new hospital than to an existing VA hospital; (3) VA also made judgments about where veterans in certain counties would travel for care; (4) in establishing a service area for the Mobile hospital, VA planners assumed that a VA hospital would be constructed in Okaloosa County; (5) the concentration of military retirees residing in the hospital service areas for Mobile and Okaloosa County was about 3 to 4.5 times greater than the national average; and (6) in its data collection, VA did not differentiate between military retirees and other types of eligible veterans. GAO was unable to conclude whether VA should adjust its work-load projections for the potential hospitals since data were unavailable to determine the extent of military retirees' usage in areas with both VA and military hospitals.

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