Three Years After Phoenix, VA Wait Time Scandal Continues
New Reports Show VA Employees Still Manipulating Wait Times
Arlington, VA – Last week the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a report confirming widespread wait time inaccuracies at VA medical facilities in North Carolina and Virginia. The OIG’s audit found the inaccuracies vastly understated veteran wait times for thousands of appointments during the 2016 calendar year.
As a result of the inaccurate wait time data, veterans who were eligible for the Choice Program and who could have sought care at a doctor of their choosing were forced to wait for care at the VA. Of 15,300 appointments audited in which veterans should have been added to the Veterans Choice List, OIG estimates that VA staff did not identify 90 percent of them to be added to the list.
Additionally, the OIG found through its audit that wait time numbers are “significantly higher” than the numbers reported in the Veterans Health Administration’s scheduling system. This occurred because of inaccurate data entry by VA schedulers, who documented the scheduled appointment time as the desired appointment time instead of the requested appointment time.
Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) Policy Director Dan Caldwell issued the following statement:
“The VA has consistently failed at their number one priority: to provide veterans access to timely health care. The fact that VA employees across the country are still engaging in inappropriate scheduling practices shows just how dysfunctional the department still is. Accountability and choice reforms at the VA are simply not an option anymore – they are an urgent necessity.”
CVA supports the Caring for Our Heroes in the 21st Century Act, draft legislation introduced by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) last year which would empower veterans to seek care inside or outside the VA at their own discretion. The group will also push Congress to re-authorize the current Choice Card program this August until more permanent reforms can take hold.
CVA also supports the 2017 VA Accountability First Act. If passed, the VA Accountability First Act of 2017 would make it easier to terminate bad employees at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and help bring a new culture of accountability to the broken department.