And no one in The House, with the authority of how the Federal government spends money has approved any Veterans Administration people, resources or money be used to process or treat illegals from the Southern border.
The VA’s Austin, Texas-based Financial Services Center (FSC) has been contracted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) since 2002 to process reimbursement claims by providers who offer services to detained migrants.
In fiscal year 2022, which ended Sept. 30 of that year, FSC processed 161,538 such claims, with the ICE Health Services Corps (IHSC) paying out an average of $584 — a total of $94.3 million in taxpayer money, according to a July 2023 Department of Homeland Security report on “Healthcare Costs for Noncitizens in Detention.”
The Department of Veterans Affairs is getting some flak for helping U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) process health care treatment for illegal immigrants despite a growing backlog of U.S. veterans.
Under the arrangement, which has been around for more than 20 years, ICE pays for the VA’s Financial Service Center (FSC) to process medical claims for ICE’s Health Services Corps (IHSC), as well as other government agencies. IHSC is only responsible for authorizing healthcare services and obtaining providers to deliver the health care.
In fiscal year 2021, FSC processed $74 million worth of claims budgeted by IHSC. The following fiscal year, FSC budgeted more than $94 million in ICE funds, according to a Department of Homeland Security report on “Healthcare Costs for Noncitizens in Detention.”
It comes amid a growing backlog of benefits claims by veterans. As of December 2023, that number stood at 378,000 claims.
The department has attributed the growing number of claims to the PACT Act, which it says accounted for a surge of benefit applications — surpassing previous records by nearly 40%.
The increase in the number of applications, the VA said, has led to an increase in application time. In some cases, processing can take longer than 125 days, and the department anticipates that the backlog will grow in 2024.
A Wednesday report from The New York Post highlighting the VA’s arrangement with ICE, cited veterans and Republican lawmakers who criticized the deal, given the circumstances.
GOP Rep. Derrick Van of Wisconsin, a retired Navy SEAL on the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, called the arrangement “despicable” and said it “needs to be stopped immediately.”
Former Marine Chad Robichaux, who led civilian evacuation efforts in Afghanistan, said it was a “giant slap in the face to Americans and to the military community,” that “millions of taxpayer dollars [are being] taken from our veterans to instead incentivize and care for an invasion of illegal aliens.”
A VA spokesman contacted by Fox News Digital called the report “extremely misleading,” and was emphatic that the department is not providing funds or healthcare to illegal immigrants in ICE detention.
He distinguished veterans’ healthcare from veterans’ disability claims, which is a separate process. The VA says it processed veteran benefits at a record rate in 2023, delivering $163 billion in earned benefits, including $150 billion in compensation and pension benefits to more than 1.5 million veterans and survivors.
VA Press Secretary Terrence Hayes said the VA’s work for ICE is administrative in function only, involves no more than 10 employees, and is fully paid for by ICE. None of these employees have been diverted from other roles, and no resources for veterans are used for this agreement.
“[The arrangement] “has been in place for every administration since 2002,” Hayes said in a statement. “Our job is to deliver world-class care and benefits to our nation’s Veterans, and we will continue to fight like hell to do exactly that.”
It remained unclear why, if ICE has the funds to pay the VA, it cannot — after 20 years — hire additional personnel of its own to process the paperwork within the department.