In April reports began to surface that veterans were dying from serious medical conditions while being put on lists and waiting months to see a doctor.
Monday we started seeing some numbers from the VA audits that were triggered by these reports.
According to RT, “VA investigators looked into 731 federally-managed medical centers from May 12 to June 3, and found that 76 percent of the patients at those facilities, or roughly 100,000, have experienced long waits.”
“Of those, the report found, 57,436 patients had been waiting 90 days or more for an appointment as of May 17, 2014. Additionally, 63,869 patients requested appointments during the last decade that were ultimately never scheduled.”
76% is very significant. That number alone proves that long waits are the rule and not the exception.
Gregg Zorroya of USA Today reports that the VA is working to contact veterans and move toward solutions:
The VA says it already has contacted 50,000 veterans trying to get them quicker medical care.
“VA is moving aggressively to contact these veterans,” the audit report said.
Late Monday night, acting VA Inspector General Richard Griffin told a House committee that his investigators identified “some supervisors” in the department who ordered manipulations of appointment data. Griffin says his office is reviewing with the federal prosecutors whether criminal charges will be filed against the VA supervisors.
“Some supervisors” might be an understatement. It is being reported that 13% of VA schedulers have admitted that they were told to falsify dates. Again, keep in mind that this is no longer just Phoenix and Houston that we are talking about. This is data coming from 731 centers, though it is unclear how many schedulers may have been contacted.
The Department of Veterans Affairs on Monday shed light on the depth of the VA scheduling scandal and substantiated claims that rank-and-file employees were directed to manipulate records.
The agency said more than 57,000 new patients have waited at least 90 days for their first appointments and that about 13 percent of VA schedulers indicated they were told to falsify appointment-request dates to give the impression that wait times were shorter than they really were.
The information comes from the agency’s internal audit of 731 VA medical centers, which the VA released Monday.
The report said that complicated scheduling practices created confusion among clerks and supervisors, contributing to the problems. It also said the VA’s goal of providing an initial appointment within 14 days of a request was unattainable because of the growing demand for care among veterans.
Source: Washington Post
The system is broken. The VA can not handle the demand for veterans’ health care. Rather than admit defeat they have been busy trying to hide the problem. The system is in dire need of a complete overhaul. If 13 percent of VA schedulers admit that they were told to “cook the books,” one has to wonder how many might still be attempting to cover for superiors. Could that number be higher?
According to Census Bureau numbers there are 21.2 million surviving veterans in the United States today. Meeting the diverse and changing health care needs of such a large segment of the population is certainly not an easy task.
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I look for congress to approve a huge chunk of “emergency” funding for Veterans Affairs to try to dig out of this mess. Throwing more money at these situations always seems to be the fix we offer in America. At some point we have to admit that the entire management team is at fault, not just Eric Shinseki, and the current model does not work.
Putting more money in the hands of bad managers is what got us to this point. The system needs to be optimized and overhauled.
Our veterans deserve much better.