Embroiled in scandal and mounting allegations of inefficacy, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) doled out more than $142 million in bonuses.

While VA executives and employees are rewarded for their performance, wait time for veterans needing medical attention has increased more than 50%.

The issuance of bonuses is what helped shove the VA scandal into the spotlight. Veteran wait times were fudged by VA employees who were required to meet certain metrics to be bonus-eligible.

And yet, the VA did it again.

USA Today reported the generous bonus story earlier today:

WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs doled out more than $142 million in bonuses to executives and employees for performance in 2014 even as scandals over veterans’ health care and other issues racked the agency.

Among the recipients were claims processors in a Philadelphia benefits office that investigators dubbed the worst in the country last year. They received $300 to $900 each. Managers in Tomah, Wis., got $1,000 to $4,000, even though they oversaw the over-prescription of opiates to veterans – one of whom died.

The VA also rewarded executives who managed construction of a facility in Denver, a disastrous project years overdue and more than $1 billion over budget. They took home $4,000 to $8,000 each. And in St. Cloud, Minn., where an internal investigation report last year outlined mismanagement that led to mass resignations of health care providers, the chief of staff cited by investigators received a performance bonus of almost $4,000.

As one of his final acts last year before resigning, then-VA secretary Eric Shinseki announced he was suspending bonuses in the wake of revelations that VA employees falsified wait lists to meet wait-time targets — ostensibly as part of efforts to secure the extra pay. But he only curtailed them for a sliver of VA executives — those in senior levels of the Veterans Health Administration, which oversees health care.

This is not the first time the VA has been criticized for handing out bonuses. A CBS News report airing in 2014 explains how $2.8 million in bonuses were issued despite revelations that wait times for veteran care were horrendously long.

Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton drew the ire of veteran advocacy groups for saying the VA scandal was not, “as widespread as it was made out to be.” Despite calls to recant her remarks, Clinton refused to apologize.

Follow Kemberlee on Twitter @kemberleekaye


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