Arlington, VA – Today USA Today published the secret internal rating system the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) uses to track the performance of its facilities while keeping American veterans and taxpayers largely in the dark. Historically, the VA has refused to make these ratings public, claiming they are meant for internal use only.
According to the secret ratings, many VA hospitals have remained “one-star” performers despite years of scandal, crisis, and millions in taxpayer funding. For example, the Phoenix VA was a one-star medical center when the news broke in 2014 that schedulers there were using secret wait lists to hide how long veterans were really waiting for appointments. To date, Phoenix is still a one-star facility, according to the VA.
Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) Executive Director Mark Lucas issued the following statement:
“By keeping this rating system secret, the VA was admitting that preserving the illusion of competency matters more to them than actually serving veterans – and the VA fails at both. The lengths to which the VA will go to hide its own bad performance should disturb veterans and American taxpayers alike. We deserve transparency out of the government agency that’s failing to care for our American heroes and wasting billions of our hard-earned dollars in the process. As a country, we cannot properly fix these problems until we know exactly what we are up against.”
VA Undersecretary for Health David Shulkin told USA Today that he was concerned veterans would find out they are using a one-star facility and “assume that’s bad quality.”
CVA has routinely called for more robust auditing and increased transparency from the VA. The group fights for accountability measures, like the VA Accountability First and Appeals Modernization Act, which would make it easier to fire bad VA employees. CVA also advocates to empower veterans with choice over where and when to see a doctor and supports the Caring for our Heroes in the 21st Century Act, draft legislation introduced by Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-WA).