An audit of the VA system has found that 57,000 vets have been waiting more than 90 days for their appointments to see a doctor.
Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN) has been described as a “fierce” critic of the administration concerning the VA. On Monday she released the following statement concerning the audit:
Today’s audit from the VA confirms what we’ve known all along: the VA falsified wait times to cover-up their internal mess which led to the complete breakdown of our nation’s largest hospital system. I’m also saddened to learn the Indianapolis VA facility in my home state has been flagged for further review. Tonight, my colleagues and I will hear from representatives from the Government Accountability Office, VA inspector general and VA who will testify on data manipulation. It is my hope they can answer questions to uncover the truth of how this problem began. But, I fully expect more information to come out when the Inspector General completes its investigation. This is not a partisan issue. We need to keep working together to get to the bottom of this. And I think the FBI needs to be involved in investigating criminal activity.
The VA had a policy of attempting to get vets in to see a doctor within 14 days of their requests. That policy has now been scrapped after an interim report found that it was unrealistic.
The audit released Monday was ordered after a whistleblower revealed the VA hospital in Phoenix had maintained a secret waiting list in order to prevent long wait times from showing up on official records.
Last week Sloan Gibson, the acting head of the VA after Sec. Shinseki’s resignation, said 18 vets on that list died while waiting to see a doctor. CNN reported last year that at least nine vets died while on similar wait lists at VA facilities in South Carolina and Georgia. The audit was intended to give a clear sense of the extent of the problem.
The audit also found that thirteen percent of schedulers at VA facilities said they had been told by supervisors to falsify wait times. Whistleblowers have said the pressure to make it appear wait times were short came from supervisors who wanted to claim performance bonuses.
The full report is available here.