VA Releases Internal Audit; Members of Congress Press for Reform
On Monday, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) released its internal audit of 751 VA medical facilities. The report said that more than 57,000 patients have been waiting for their first appointment at VA medical centers for at least 90 days, and another 64,000 who have enrolled over the past decade have never had an appointment.
According to the audit, the scheduling practices at VA facilities created “confusion among scheduling clerks and supervisors,” and concealed long wait times. Thirteen percent of VA schedulers reported that supervisors directed them to make wait times seem shorter by recording false appointment dates. In addition, the audit concluded that the 14-day goal for initial appointments was unrealistic, since claims for service have increased and the Department has been inadequately prepared to meet the demands.
On Monday, a bipartisan group of Senators, lead by veteran Senators John McCain of Arizona and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, announced they asked Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate whether VA officials have committed any crimes in the course of their duties. The letter, signed by 21 Senators, said, “Evidence of secret waiting times, falsification of records, destruction of documents, and other potential criminal wrongdoing has appalled and angered the nation, and imperiled trust and confidence in the Veterans Health Administration.”
This week, the House will debate legislation by Representative Jeff Miller of Florida, Chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, which would allow non-VA medical facilities to provide services to veterans, if they are subject to “extended waiting times for appointments at Department facilities.”
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