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Government Accountability Office To Review Veterans Homes Oversight

A cleaning crew suited up with protective gear enters the Soldiers Home — a state-run long-term residence and health facility in Holyoke where 11 veterans have died following a coronavirus outbreak — on March 31. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
A cleaning crew suited up with protective gear enters the Soldiers Home — a state-run long-term residence and health facility in Holyoke where 11 veterans have died following a coronavirus outbreak — on March 31. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

The U.S. Government Accountability Office has agreed to a request from U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey to review the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs's oversight of quality of care at state veterans homes, but the GAO said its investigators aren't available to start for five months.

Warren, Markey and counterparts from Montana and Pennsylvania earlier this month had specifically asked that the GAO review include an update on the progress the VA has made towards implementing the GAO's July 2019 recommendations for the VA to improve its oversight of state veterans homes and the transparency regarding its assessments of those facilities.

"The recent deaths of veteran residents and other care challenges at State Veterans Homes during the COVID-19 public health emergency remind us that VA's implementation of these recommendations would contribute toward improved care quality at these facilities nationwide and better inform veterans and their families about the best care options," the senators wrote in their request letter.

The coronavirus outbreak at the Holyoke Soldiers' Home is the subject of at least three investigations and more than 80 resident veterans have died since the end of March. In New Jersey, veterans homes have reported more than a combined 100 deaths from COVID-19.

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