The Department of Veterans Affairs appears prone to failure — and our country's military heroes continue to pay the price. Officials recently discovered yet another unauthorized waiting list for appointments at an Omaha, Neb., VA hospital. This year alone, the hospital delayed care for no fewer than 87 Veterans.
Tragically, this is just the latest knot in a string filled with shameful VA scandals. To say our Veterans deserve better is a monumental understatement.
The VA has long plagued Veterans with chronic wait times. As of this past February, at least 144,000 Veterans waited 30 days or more to see a doctor.
Such delays have proven dangerous – and even deadly. In 2015, for example, more than 200 Veterans died waiting for care at a VA facility in Phoenix. Just one year earlier, 37 Veterans suffered the same fate due to delayed care in Shreveport, La. Worse still, more than 2,900 Veterans are currently waiting for care at the same Shreveport hospital.
Even patients utilizing the Veterans Choice Program endured long waits, according to that same report. The Choice Program, which is sponsored by the VA and requires congressional authorization, theoretically empowers Veterans to receive timely and quality care from the private sector.
Still, Veterans waited 90 days on average to receive appointments outside of the VA. And more than 82 percent of Veterans waited longer than a month.
In an effort to conceal these delays, VA facilities across the country are fudging data and keeping secret wait lists. Omaha is merely home to the latest embarrassment. Indeed, internal auditors revealed that at least 110 VA facilities across the nation kept secret waiting lists to cover up the delays Veterans endured when seeking care in 2014.
Consider a March 2017 review of a dozen VA facilities throughout North Carolina and Virginia. The investigation analyzed the duration between primary and mental healthcare appointments for new patients and referrals for specialists. The VA scheduling system reported that just 10 percent of Veterans waited more than a month for an appointment. The actual number was an astonishing 36 percent.
Also look to Iowa City, Iowa. Earlier this year, the two local VA facilitates there claimed that no Veteran waited longer than three months for care. In reality, 537 Veterans were waiting for a clinical appointment between 91-180 days, 539 waited between 181 days to a year, and 232 waited between one and two years.
This type of negligence is truly indefensible. Our Veterans risked the ultimate sacrifice to protect and serve our nation. Once home, they battle languishing healthcare delays. It's time to get serious about fixing the VA.
(NOTE: This is just a reminder of what most think has been resolved and is NOT!)