200 Veterans DIED WAITING FOR HEALTHCARE – Two years ago we learned of this dis-service to our Veterans. The public was in an uproar, changes were made in management, new rules were made and yet, nothing has changed. This is beyond unacceptable – this is CRIMINAL. PLEASE TAKE NATIONAL POLLS AND PETITIONS. YOUR OPINION MATTERS Results Are Sent To Congress - Let Congress Hear Your Voice
PLEASE TAKE NATIONAL POLLS AND PETITIONS. YOUR OPINION MATTERS
Results Are Sent To Congress - Let Congress Hear Your Voice
The Phoenix Veterans Affairs office is still improperly canceling veterans’ appointments, has built up a new backlog of cases — and at least one veteran is likely dead because of it, the department’s inspector general said in a new report Tuesday.
Two years after they first sounded the alarm about secret waiting lists leaving veterans struggling for care at the Phoenix VA, investigators said some services have improved, and cleared the clinic of allegations that top officials ordered staff to cancel appointments.
But confusion and bureaucratic bungling remain prevalent, long wait times are still a problem, and veterans are having appointments canceled for questionable reasons.
More than 200 veterans died while waiting for appointments, and investigators said at least one veteran would likely have been saved if the clinic had gone ahead with his consultation.
“This patient never received an appointment for a cardiology exam that could have prompted further definitive testing and interventions that could have forestalled his death,” the inspector general said.
The VA is still reeling from an initial 2014 report that found top executives cooked their books, canceling appointments and shifting others onto secret wait lists to try to make their backlogs appear less drastic, hoping to earn performance bonuses. The problems were first reported at the Phoenix VA, where dozens of veterans died while waiting for care, but investigators found similar secret wait lists and botched care at clinics across the country.
Department Secretary Eric Shinseki was ousted and new Secretary Bob McDonald was brought in to make improvements in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), the branch of the department that provides care to nearly 9 million beneficiaries.
Congress has also acted, passing a law that gives veterans who have been waiting too long for appointments the chance to seek care at a non-VA facility, on taxpayers’ dime.
But lawmakers said the new report is proof that President Obama and Mr. McDonald need to start firing bad employees if they want to clean up the department.
“VA’s performance in Phoenix and across the nation will never improve until there are consequences up and down the chain of command for these and other persistent failures,” said House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller, Florida Republican.
He faulted the inspector general’s report for not naming names, saying without “clear lines of accountability” the problems won’t be solved.
Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake, Arizona’s two Republican senators, said the findings show the need for even more private options for care. They said the choice card program should be open to all veterans regardless of how long they have waited for an appointment, or how far they live from a VA facility.
The VA, in its official reply to the inspector general’s report, insisted it’s improved things over the last few years, despite lingering problems. Undersecretary for Health David J. Shulkin said they’ve cut the number of patients who wait more than 90 days for an appointment by 64 percent, and most of the ones that have been waiting aren’t considered urgent.
If things have improved – why are Veterans still dying under their watch?