VA Audit Reveals Capacity Problems Are Plaguing Many Facilities

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A recently released Department of Veterans Affairs' nation-wide audit provides insight into the controversial wait times being investigated at VA facilities across the country.

Here are five things to know about the VA audit:

1. The audit revealed more than 57,000 veterans have been waiting more than 90 days to be seen at many VA facilities. The 90-day wait time is more than six times as long as the department's 14-day goal. Based on the long wait times, the department concluded meeting a 14-day wait-time performance goal for new appointments was not attainable.

2. The department cited a growing demand for services and inadequate provider staffing as a major contributor to the lengthy wait-times at many VA facilities. The VA system has struggled to accommodate two million new patients over the past five years. Many of the VA's new patients are Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans. Additionally, there has been a great influx of aging Vietnam veterans, many of whom are suffering from severe health conditions, according to the Washington Post.   

3. Due to the inability to meet the 14-day wait time performance goal, the auditors found pressures were placed on schedulers at many VA facilities to utilize improper methods to falsify wait times to make it appear as though the performance goal was being achieved. Thirteen percent of the scheduling staff indicated they had been instructed to enter appointment dates into the system that were different that what the veterans had requested, and eight percent of the scheduling staff indicated they used some other method than the VA's electronic scheduling program to track appointments and wait times. 

4. Based on the audit's results, a bipartisan group of 21 senators sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder requesting the Department of Justice immediately investigate evidence of criminal wrongdoing at VA facilities across the country. The letter stated, "Evidence of secret waiting times, falsification of records, destruction of documents and other potential criminal wrongdoing has appalled and angered the nation and imperiled trust and confidence in the Veterans Health Administration." The group is led by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), who are both veterans. 

5. To address the influx of veterans needing care at VA facilities, the House is expected to vote this week on a bill that would allow veterans to use private medical providers if they live more than 40 miles away from a VA hospital, or if they experience long wait times. The House also passed legislation that would require the VA inspector general to notify Congress and the department secretary of any failure to adopt recommended reforms in its reports.

More Articles on the VA:

Senators Reach Deal on VA Healthcare Bill
No Bonuses For Poor Performing VA Physicians Under New Legislation 
VA OIG Investigates Allegations of Secret Waiting List, Falsified Records in Phoenix: 3 Key Findings

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