57,000 Patients Have Waited At Least Three Months for Their First VA Appointment

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An audit of the Veterans Administration found that more than 57,000 veterans have waited at least 90 days for an appointment. According to the Associated Press, the department audit of 731 hospitals and outpatient clinics also found that 13 percent of schedulers reported that supervisors told them to falsify appointment dates. There are also 64,000 patients who, over the last 10 years, have never had an appointment. 

This audit further confirms our greatest concerns about the VA. As various investigations reveal how widespread the organization's problems are, there are also concerns that VA officials are retaliating against its whistleblowers. The Associated Press reported Friday that the federal Office of Special Counsel has blocked the suspensions and demotions of three VA officials who reported improper scheduling and other care-related issues.

The big question, of course, is what's being done to fix all of this. The VA has abandoned giving out financial bonuses to hospitals that met the 14-day appointment window, a key factor in motivating officials to falsify appointment times. And on Friday acting Secretary Sloan Gibson announced that the VA is putting out bids for "purchased care," allowing veterans to be treated at other hospitals, something Congress has also pushed for. The VA is also creating a special human resources team to recruit staff members at understaffed clinics. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.