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Monday, October 24, 2016

By Richard Simon, Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON — An investigation of wait times for medical care at Veterans Affairs facilities has found “inappropriate scheduling practices are systemic” through the VA and “instances of manipulation of VA data that distort the legitimacy of reported waiting times,” prompting new calls for VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign.

The VA inspector general’s interim report, released Wednesday, shows the investigation has expanded to 42 facilities, more than a dozen beyond the previously reported 26.

At the Phoenix VA, the main subject of the interim report, investigators “substantiated that significant delays in access to care negatively impacted the quality of care,” finding about 1,700 veterans who were waiting for an appointment but were not on a waiting list.

“These veterans were and continue to be at risk of being forgotten or lost,” the report says, adding they may never obtain an appointment. “A direct consequence of not appropriately placing veterans on EWLs (electronic waiting lists) is that the Phoenix HCS leadership significantly understated the time new patients waited for their primary care appointment in their FY 2013 performance appraisal accomplishments, which is one of the factors considered for awards and salary increases.”

The report prompted U.S. Representative Jeff Miller (R-FL), the chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, to immediately call for Shinseki’s resignation.

Miller said the report confirmed “beyond a shadow of a doubt what was becoming more obvious by the day: Wait time schemes and data manipulation are systemic throughout VA and are putting veterans at risk in Phoenix and across the country.”

“VA needs a leader who will take swift and decisive action to discipline employees responsible for mismanagement, negligence and corruption that harms veterans while taking bold steps to replace the department’s culture of complacency with a climate of accountability,” Miller said in a statement. “Shinseki has proved time and again he is not that leader. That’s why it’s time for him to go.”

Photo: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs via Flickr
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  • disqus_ivSI3ByGmh

    Gee. Maybe if Jeff Miller hadn’t kept voting for deeper and deeper cuts in the VA’s budget, maybe there would have been money to hire the needed doctors, nurses and other professionals and eliminate the wait time.

  • Grannysmovin

    First this is a serious problem and needs serious solutions from people who care and not just looking to make headlines. Having said that,

    Republicans reaction to the following:

    Benghazi – 4 Americans actively serving in the Diplomatic
    Core in a Country known for having anti-American cells. Outrage, A) Issa’s
    investigation into Benghazi was/is the House Oversight Committee B) Chairman Mike Rogers investigation into Benghazi was/is the House Intelligence Committee, C)Chairman McKeon investigation into Benghazi was/is the House Armed Services Committee E) Rep. Edward R. Royce, Chairman investigation into Benghazi was/is House Committee on
    Foreign Affairs F) Senate Select Committee and now the Special “Trial
    ” Committee.

    VA scandal- Outrage NOW – not in the late 90’s when it started, not from 2001 to present when the system was failing. Where was this outrage when all but 2 Republicans voted against Expanded veterans benefits bill fails over GOP’s budget-busting objections. Republicans block the bill for
    not having a funding source.

    Iraq War: The Administration lied to everyone about WMD which was the reason given to invade Iraq. Over 4,000 dead, ten of thousands injured, where was the Republican Outrage – I must have missed it. Where were
    all the hearings? Where was the demand for action? Where was the demand for accountability?

    Gun Deaths since Newton: 12,042 or more between Newtown and
    Dec. 31, 2013 Outrage from Republicans ZERO. Are these peoples lives any less of value than the 4 Americans who died in Benghazi. I have sympathy for the families and gratitude for their service, but they volunteered to serve their country knowing and accepting the risks. What about the 12,042 people who died, they were not serving their country in some volatile area around the world; they were living their lives here in the States. Where is the outrage? Where is the demand for action? Where is the accountability?