By Associated Press - Monday, October 13, 2014

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) - Ohio Veterans Affairs hospitals paid out nearly $6.5 million in bonuses to more than 6,000 employees in the past year, a newspaper analysis has found.

The bonuses went to employees of the state’s five VA hospitals during a year the agency was criticized for long veterans’ waits for health care and workers falsifying records to cover up delays, according to the Dayton Daily News (https://bit.ly/11dRbYg ), which obtained the database of VA salaries and bonuses through a public records request.

Bonus payouts at Ohio’s VA hospitals dropped from nearly $7.7 million in 2013 to $6.5 million in federal fiscal year 2014, which ended Oct. 1. The average bonus in 2014 was $700.



One Dayton VA doctor received bonuses in 2013 and 2014 after the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs paid out $300,000 to settle a malpractice claim naming her, the newspaper reported.

Federal reforms passed by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama after a summer of outrage over how long veterans were waiting for care have limited the budget for VA bonuses to $360 million - a $40 million reduction.

Top administrators received the largest bonuses in Ohio last year, according to records. Jack Hetrick, director of the VA in Ohio, received the largest bonus: $12,579. That was on top of his $181,497 salary.

U.S. Sen Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, who sits on the Senate veterans affairs committee, said limits to bonuses must be balanced against paying enough to attract high-quality employees.

“Our veterans deserve the highest level of care possible,” he said. “Recruiting and retaining skilled medical and administrative professionals, in the current national health care provider shortage, is a difficult challenge.”

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Information from: Dayton Daily News, https://www.daytondailynews.com

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