Updated VA audit shows more vets have long waits for appointments
WASHINGTON — Tens of thousands of more veterans than previously reported were forced to wait at least a month for medical appointments at Veterans Affairs hospitals and clinics, according to an updated audit of 731 VA medical facilities released on Thursday.
The updated audit includes figures showing that the wait times actually experienced at most VA facilities were shorter than those on waiting lists for pending appointments. For instance, new patients at the Atlanta VA hospital waited an average of 44 days for an appointment in April, the report said. But the average wait for pending appointments at Atlanta was 66 days.
Similar disparities in average wait times were found across the country. Pending appointments, for example, don't include patients who walk into a clinic and get immediate or quick treatment. They don't reflect rescheduled appointments or those that are moved up because of openings caused by cancellations.
VA officials said the two sets of data complement one another and are evidence many veterans face long waits for care. More than 56,000 veterans were waiting more than 90 days for an initial appointment, the report said.
“In many communities across the country, veterans wait too long for the high quality care they've earned and deserve,” acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson said.
The department has reached out to 70,000 veterans to get them off waiting lists and into clinics, Gibson said, “but there is still much more work to be done.”
The report showed that about 10 percent of veterans seeking medical care at VA hospitals and clinics have to wait at least 30 days for an appointment. That's more than double the 4 percent of veterans the government said last week were forced to endure long waits.
Gibson called the increase unfortunate, but said it was probably an indication of more reliable data being reported by VA schedulers rather than of a big increase in veteran wait times.
Administrators at local VA medical centers questioned the results of the June 9 audit, which looked only at pending appointments, saying they did not match internal data on completed appointments showing waits were far shorter.
The reliability of both sets of data is in question. The VA is investigating manipulation of appointment data by schedulers amid an uproar over since-confirmed allegations that at least 35 veterans died while awaiting appointments at the Phoenix VA medical center.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- N.H. kidnapping suspect held on $1M bail
- Surgeon general echoes warnings about skin cancer
- Highway funding overhaul sought
- Girl struck by plane on beach succumbs
- Obama’s many rules often violate statute
- Appeals court upholds nation of origin labels for meat
- UCLA inundated by burst pipe
- Chemical plan inspection program ‘broken’
- Boy’s body discovered on Air Force cargo jet that was on mission in Africa
- Harshest sanctions yet target Russian finances, arms
- Lone clinic in Miss. for abortions still stands