June was a historic month for the VA. On June 6, the president signed the VA MISSION Act into law. This legislation will give veterans more choice over their health care by expanding their access to care outside the VA. The long-overdue move will empower veterans by giving them more control over their health care.
While June brought good news for veterans, it didn’t bring much for the Department of Veterans Affairs. The ink was barely dry on the VA MISSION Act when reports of #VAFails started pouring in. Here are the four worst stories we saw this month.
- The Cincinnati VA shut its surgical center doors for four days because of a scheduling issue. According to reports, at least three veterans were turned away when they showed up for surgery. Hospital staff has complained that incompetent leadership is the problem at this facility.
- A California vet claims he was misdiagnosed when he visited the VA seeking treatment for debilitating back pain. When he went to a private imaging facility for an MRI on his own dime, the test showed he needed surgery right away for a bacterial infection destroying his spine. A blood test showed the VA misdiagnosed him at his original appointment. His back is permanently damaged.
- A Virginia veteran visited his local VA facility for severe night terrors that have resulted in bodily harm while he slept. When he asked to see a different provider than the one he was referred to, he was told it would take the VA at least 30 days to process his change form on top of the time it would take to schedule an appointment. The average wait time for a mental health appointment at his facility is nine days.
- The VA released ratings for its 133 nursing home facilities after calls from the Boston Globe and USA Today. The move towards transparency is commendable; the facility ratings are anything but. Nearly half of the nursing homes received one star for quality. Only three received five stars.
This list is just a snapshot of the VA’s failure reported in the last 30 days. Thankfully, moves to make the VA more transparent with its hospital information and allow veterans to seek care outside the VA are beginning to take effect.