Newly released federal data revealed that veterans using Texas VA hospitals suffer some of the longest wait times in the country. Out of 731 hospital surveyed, researchers found that Texas holds four of the top 10 slowest VA centers.
Federal regulations dictate that patients should wait no longer than 14 days for an appointment after scheduling one; a metric which a report from the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) claims is “not attainable given growing demand for services and lack of planning.” The DVA lists eight Texas location that require further review after their initial survey into them. Among them are centers in Dallas, Fort Worth, Corpus Christi, San Antonio, and Temple.
In response to this report, VA officials claim they are in the process of “immediately redoubling efforts to quickly address delays in Veterans’ health care.”
Among the reforms pledged by the DVA, there are two which could potentially lead to an increase employee accountability at VA hospitals. The first being a suspension all executive performance awards for 2014.
DVA officials also intend to “remove the 14-day performance goal from employee performance plans.” The DVA reported that 13% of Texas employees said that they had received instruction to manipulate appointment dates to obfuscate wait times.
According to an anonymous whistleblower, these 14-day performance goals accounted for 50% of employee’s bonuses. The whistleblower called this structure a “powerful motivator” to lie about wait times.
Follow Patrick Kane on Twitter @PatVKane.