Spokane VA hospital funded to survive government shutdown




Posted on September 30, 2013 at 4:45 PM

Updated Monday, Sep 30 at 5:40 PM

SPOKANE, Wash. -- A federal government shutdown would not close all federally funded offices in the Inland Northwest. 

The Department of Veterans Affairs is federally funded, which includes the VA Medical Center in Spokane. However, in the event of a shutdown the center has time on its side.

READ: On the verge of a government shutdown: Now what?

The Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center in Northwest Spokane provides health care services to more than 30,000 veterans living in the Inland Northwest. Hospital officials said they have been well aware of the possibility of a government shutdown.

If that happens, the center said things should appear business as usual. They said lawmakers approved money one year in advance for the VA's health programs. Therefore, beginning on October 1, the VA hospital has funding for the following year.

Veterans will still be able to visit hospitals for in-patient care, get mental health counseling at vet centers, or get prescriptions filled at VA Health Clinics.

Hospital officials said the VA strongly believes a lapse in funding should not occur and there is still enough time for congress to act and fund critical government operations.

Benefit payments are administered through a Seattle office by the Veterans Benefits Administration according to a statement released by Spokane officials.

"Claims processing and payments in the compensation, pension, education, and vocational rehabilitation programs are anticipated to continue through late October. However, in the event of a prolonged shutdown, claims processing and payments in these programs would be suspended as available funding is exhausted."

There are 850 staff members at the VA Medical Center, who will keep their jobs because of the funding.