VA Coronavirus Response Highlights

Published: April 28, 2020

Federal Market AnalysisCoronavirus (COVID-19) PandemicVA

The Department of Veterans Affairs has implemented an aggressive public health response to protect and care for veterans in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. It also shoulders contracting responsibility for nine Federal Supply Schedules related to medical supplies and services for all federal agencies. This blog summarizes the VA response to date, along with an analysis of agency spending and procurement notices related to the novel coronavirus.

Key Takeaways:

  • In the face of the coronavirus pandemic, VA has been working to protect and care for veterans and their families by implementing a health care response plan, expanding telehealth, hiring additional health care staff, and expanding health care capacity.
  • To date, VA has allocated $726M in contracted funds to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The bulk of this spending, $484M, was for medical and scientific equipment.
  • VA has also been seeking assistance in their efforts via announcements in the System for Awards Management (SAM).  To date, it has published 236 announcements, 136 of which were for medical and scientific equipment.

Tasked with the mission of caring for the nation’s veterans and their families, VA is a critical health care provider in the battle against the coronavirus. VA has ramped up its health care system to be able to provide testing and care to veterans for COVID-19 while still providing broader health care services to those not impacted by the virus.

Below are highlights of VA efforts to date to prepare and respond to the COVID-19 crisis:

  • In late March, VA invited retired medical personnel back to work to assist with pandemic response.
  • Also in late March, VA began letting some administrative staff work from home.
  • On March 27th, VA made public its extensive COVID-19 response plan for VHA.  The 262 page plan outlines patient screening and treatment, infection control, clinical practice guidelines, and emergency pharmacy services just to name a few.
  • VA deployed Mobile Vet Centers to increase outreach during the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • VA began partnering with FDA and NIH to accelerate 3D-printed protective gear for COVID-19 response, and later expanded the effort to include ventilator parts.
  • VA began to boost hiring in early April to confront the coronavirus.
  • VA paused work on the Electronic Health Record Modernization (EHRM) program in light of the pandemic.
  • VA’s Disaster Emergency Medical Personnel System began providing support to combat COVID-19 in early April.
  • In mid-April, VA announced that virtual mental health care use was on the rise amid COVID-19.
  • VA also began allocation of its portion of the CARES Act funding. Much of the funding is directed at VHA for hiring medical professionals who oversee COVID-19 triage, but a considerable amount is also directed toward purchasing pharmaceuticals and critical equipment like ventilators and PPE for VA staff.
  • VA has also been supporting non-VA health care systems to help with capacity issues, by treating both non-veteran COVID-19 and non-COVID patients. VA plans to make 1,500 beds available for non-veteran patients.
  • VA, Facebook and the American Red Cross are providing Portal video-calling devices to veterans, caregivers and families to reduce isolation at home.
  • VA partnered with the IRS to deliver economic impact payments to veterans and survivors.
  • On April 3rd, VA acquired a Texas community hospital to increase the capacity to care for veterans in the fight against COVID-19.
  • VA and DOD implemented a new capability for bidirectional sharing of health records with community partners, which will help with the exchange of health data during the pandemic.
  • VA hiring jumped 37% the first two weeks of April to respond to the coronavirus, and it expects the hiring surge to continue in the coming weeks.
  • VA also manages nine Federal Supply Schedules (FSS) related to medical supplies and services for all federal agencies, including medical equipment, supplies, pharmaceuticals, and services.  During the pandemic, the VA FSS Service has been supporting the health care needs and requirements of the VA and other federal agencies by providing access to over 1 million commercial products and services through the supply schedules.

To date, VA has obligated $726M in contract funds to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The charts below show a breakdown of the contract spending to date.

OALC=Office of Acquisition, Logistics and Construction

In addition, VA has been announcing its need for products and services in the System for Award Management (SAM). The charts below show a breakdown of the number of announcements by agency and by primary requirement.

VA will continue to need contractor support to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Agency needs range from PPE, medical supplies and equipment, to pharmaceuticals, health care staffing, construction, information technology and cleaning services.