Denver VA Kept Secret Wait Lists for Veterans Seeking Mental Health Care
Denver, CO – The Office of Inspector General (IG) for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) said Thursday that the agency’s Denver-area hospital violated policy by keeping secret wait lists to track veterans’ mental health care. The IG report confirmed a whistleblower’s claim that staff kept unauthorized lists and avoided using the department’s official wait list system, making it impossible for the hospital to officially track if veterans were receiving timely care.
In addition to problems at the Denver VA, the report also highlighted problems at the VA hospital in Colorado Springs, where patients seeking treatment for PTSD were often forced to wait over a week for an initial consult and over 30 days for treatment.
Concerned Veterans for America Executive Director Dan Caldwell issued the following statement:
“Veterans deserve better than a VA system that has continued to fail them by creating secret wait lists that jeopardize their health and safety. The revelations of secret wait lists at the Denver VA are disturbing and show that there is still work needed to reform the VA. If a veteran isn’t receiving the timely care they need from the VA, they should be able to take their earned health care benefits to the private sector.”
After the secret wait list scandal that occurred at the Phoenix VA in 2014, legislators instituted the Veterans Choice Program, which was enacted under the Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act. The program was intended as a temporary solution to the wait list scandal of 2014. The program is flawed and has been implemented poorly. Despite emergency funding authorized by Congress and signed into law earlier this year to keep the program afloat, the Choice Program is expected to run out of funds by the end of the year.
CVA has advocated for substantial reforms at the VA for years. In CVA’s Fixing Veterans Health Care Taskforce, the group advocates that veterans should have the option to use their health care benefits either at the VA or in the private sector.