White House Wants ‘Transparency’ Credit for Releasing VA Wait Lists Audit

by Joel Gehrke

President Obama deserves credit for the fact that his administration is no longer hiding the extent to which the Veterans Affairs Department hid the fact that 57,000 veterans are waiting for health care, according to his spokesman.

“The first thing I want to point out [is] that the release of today’s data is an indication of the  president’s commitment to trying to be transparent about this process,” White House deputy press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Monday. The audit he was referring to showed that 57,000 veterans are waiting for treatment and that ”13 percent of VA schedulers reported supervisors telling them to falsify appointment dates to make waiting times appear shorter,” per the Associated Press

Earnest said that the report would allow the public to evaluate the reforms needed to fix the VA. “We have removed the 14-day scheduling goal that has led to some of the unintended consequences that you’ve cited, the creation of these alternate lists and these other things that the VA is working through right now,” he said. Earnest was referring to the secret wait lists created by VA staff in order to hide the fact that they were failing to provide an appointment to new patients within 14 days of an initial request.

“Before leaving office, [resigning VA Secretary Eric Shinseki] directed that wait times should no longer be part of hospital directors’ performance reviews and canceled the attached bonuses,” the Hampton Roads Daily Press noted.

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