The Corner

Law & the Courts

Yet Again, VA Officials Falsify Records, Understate Wait Times

Oh, look, another VA wait time scandal. The Department of Veterans Affairs Inspector General received an anonymous tip that leadership at Houston-area VA facilities was instructing staff to incorrectly record clinic cancellations as patient cancellations. In other words, they shifted the blame for delayed treatement from the facility to the patient: 

We substantiated that two previous scheduling supervisors and a current director of two [Community Based Outpatient Clinic] instructed staff to incorrectly record cancellations as canceled by the patient.

We identified 223 appointments incorrectly recorded as patient cancellations during the July 2014 through June 2015 time frame.

Of the 223 appointment cancellations, staff rescheduled 94 appointments (42 percent) beyond 30 days. For these 94 appointments, veterans encountered an average 81-day wait, which was 78 days longer than shown in the electronic scheduling system. We found that wait times were understated about 66 days for 50 appointments (22 percent) when they were initially scheduled.

The report also found, that out of 31 scheduling staff interviewed, “22 did not fully understand the difference between a VAMC-canceled appointment and a patient-canceled appointment.”

The day VA Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned, President Obama declared, “We’re going to do right by our veterans across the board, as long as it takes. We’re not going to stop working to make sure that they get the care, the benefits and the opportunities that they’ve earned and they deserve. I said we wouldn’t tolerate misconduct, and we will not. I said that we have to do better, and we will.”

As some of us noticed eight years ago, all statements from Barack Obama come with an expiration date. All of them.

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