VA arranged fake appointments at fake clinic to shorten waiting list, whistleblower claims

A Department of Veterans Affairs whistleblower testified before a House Committee hearing June 25 that she was told to schedule fake appointments at a fictitious clinic to reduce the wait list of veterans in need of care, according to The Washington Post.

The whistleblower, Minu Aghevli, PhD, is a clinical psychologist and coordinator for an opioid treatment program at the VA Maryland Healthcare System in Baltimore. She said the VA deliberately sent incorrect numbers based on the fake appointments when Congress demanded information on VA wait lists in September 2015. 

The VA also coded a number of patients as "care no longer needed" without confirming that was the case, Dr. Aghevli said. She refused to fabricate the appointments and says the VA removed her from patient care in April 2019, just weeks after she complained about patient safety. She also received a notice of proposed termination the day before testifying to Congress, which the Office of Special Counsel has moved to block while it reviews her case.

Other VA whistleblowers also testified at the hearing about VA misconduct and said they had faced disciplinary action as a result. The hearing only included whistleblowers and their advocates, but VA officials will be invited to future sessions, said Rep. Chris Pappas, D-N.H., chairman of the House Veterans' Affairs oversight and investigations subcommittee.

The VA said in several statements regarding various whistleblowers that proposed firings or demotions were unrelated to whistleblowing activity. U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie also criticized the subcommittee for not inviting officials to the hearing this week.

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