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The PJ Tatler

Bridget Johnson


July 7, 2014 - 1:36 pm

A Veterans Affairs access audit found that wait times for veterans to see a doctor jumped even as the department was coming under fire for alleged secret wait lists.

A criminal investigation is probing claims that veterans died waiting for appointments and were shuffled onto secret wait lists in order to create better stats for the VA system. VA Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned May 30.

A new audit from the VA, though, shows that wait times got worse as the scandal unfolded.

Out of 141 audited nationwide, 6,004,350 appointments were scheduled as of May 15, with 242,069 of those over 30 days.

On June 1, that 4 percent rate had jumped to more than 10 percent.

As of that day, 6,186,720 were scheduled and 621,985 of those had passed the 30-day mark. In the audit of June 15 appointments, 6,187,973 were scheduled and 636,436 of these waited more than 30 days.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) wrote Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson today, asking for an explanation of “this across-the-board, unacceptable rise.”

“Simply put, the VA seems to be going in exactly the wrong direction in seeking to address dangerous and deadly health care delays,” Blumenthal said, noting that in some states the wait time had quadrupled. “…Such statistics raise serious questions. Why are the wait times increasing? Is there a lack of administrative resources? A shortage of doctors or other critical health care professionals? Are the numbers themselves valid and consistently reported?”

“The VA cannot improve the delivery of health care or restore trust and confidence in its integrity and effectiveness without clearly and accurately explaining these numbers.”

Blumenthal also called on the VA more than a month ago to release results of site-specific audits “in order to provide the public — and especially the veterans and their families who use the health care services provided at these facilities – with a clear understanding of the scope of the problems at those facilities.”

President Obama’s nominee to replace Shinseki, former Procter & Gamble CEO Robert McDonald, is making the rounds on the Hill this week to meet with senators. Tomorrow afternoon McDonald will sit down with Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

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All Comments   (5)
All Comments   (5)
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If they have been fudging the waitlist numbers and they did not start going up, then they are clearly continuing to lie. The numbers have to go up to reflect reality. That becomes the baseline for improvement.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
Wait, no one realizes that it means that EVERY VA was keeping secret lists, and now they are worried about getting caught, so they are slowly bringing it in the open?
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
I cannot help but think that this is deliberate.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
Does anyone not think that Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is part of the problem?
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
All of the august members of both the Senate and House Veterans Affairs Committees have simply not been doing their job of "oversight".

Read that sentence again.

They, working in close coordination with the senior staff at the Pentagon and the V.A. Central Office should have anticipated this influx on Veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan several years ago. Again: this should've been anticipated and provided for several years ago.

Now we have this hypocritical Congressional huffing and puffing which is a red herring.

The other part of this tragic problem is Government-wide, and is of course that of incompetent and indifferent unionized employees who are so difficult to fire.

Congress: Heal thyself.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
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