VA Secret Waiting Time Cover-Up is Snowballing

people-in-waiting-roomThe number of VA facilities under investigation after complaints about falsified records and treatment delays has more than doubled in recent days, the Office of Inspector General at the Veterans Affairs Department said late Tuesday.

A spokeswoman for the IG’s office said 26 facilities were being investigated nationwide. Acting Inspector General Richard Griffin told a Senate committee last week that at least 10 new allegations about manipulated waiting times and other problems had surfaced since reports of problems at the Phoenix VA hospital came to light last month.

(AP via Christian Science Monitor)

Comments (18)

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  1. Jameson Rent says:

    I know that the Phoenix VA hospital and many others have manipulated wait times so that it didn’t seem as though they were backed up and couldn’t see people. Especially since veterans were dying in the wait room, they had to do something to make sure that the government-run veteran hospitals would not be shut down. What a surprise: the government trying to cover up its own mistakes.

  2. Matthew says:

    “Moran noted that a VA nurse in Cheyenne, Wyoming, was put on leave this month for allegedly telling employees to falsify appointment records.”

    Perverse incentives abound. Interesting how the VA manipulates their appointment records, especially for so long.

    • Lacey says:

      Not to mention in so many places! the article names Pennsylvania, Wyoming, Georgia, Missouri, Texas, Florida and “elsewhere.” It’s crazy.

  3. Bill B. says:

    “Sens. Richard Burr of North Carolina and Deb Fischer of Nebraska said the VA should focus its spending on fixing problems at the agency, ‘not rewarding employees entrenched in a failing bureaucracy.'”

    Why does that focus have to be stated. This is the issue with those at the top of organizations, they pick their incentives over the most reasonable decision.

  4. Yancey Ward says:

    It is becoming abundantly apparent that this policy was not originated in the hospitals themselves, but from someone/s overseeing the system itself.

    • John R. Graham says:

      How can we define the difference? The hospitals are owned by the government. They are part of the VA. It is a bureaucratic blob.

      This is why many have advocated voucherizing VA benefits, so the government doesn’t own the hospitals and veterans can get the care they need from private providers.

      • Mary says:

        I think voucherizing the system would be a good way to go. Giving this large group of people the choice of where to get their care would increase the competition and hopefully drive prices down.

        • Steve says:

          Yep, the free market always provides better quality products/services because of COMPETITION. With the government in charge of the VA system, there is no such competition. Moreover, it seems pretty clear that similar manipulations concerning non-VA patient wait times and outcomes are sure to follow as more of the Obamacare law gets implemented.

          This is the sad reality anytime the government has a monopoly. It is usually able to get away with bad performance because it alone controls the information that reaches the general public (unless a responsible media apparatus exposes its deficiencies. The government always has spokespeople trying to take the credit for whatever measure of success they can find (or manufacture), but the private sector has no such PR capabilities.

    • Erik says:

      Vouchers are simply a means of privatization and cost shifting which lead to cost increases as we all know corporations are beholden to their stock holders and not the Vet’s they will serve. So Vet’s wont die of wait times but they will die due to costs.

      How is that any better?

  5. Devon Herrick says:

    The VA Health System was once touted as a model for Medicare and Medicaid (and health care in general). It’s integrated, cheap and had a form of electronic medical records before most other health care systems.

    Now that it’s collapsing under the weight of two recent wars and horrific war injuries, it’s being exposed for what it really is. Why are people surprised that a health care system that’s supposed to deliver (nearly) free care to large numbers of people is having to ration care, create waiting lines, and use other mechanisms to slow utilization? These are common characteristics of health care systems in other countries with socialized medicine.

    • Michael Jensen says:

      All three programs – Medicaid, Medicare and the VA Health System – are susceptible to the same problems: lack of access and low quality service. The combination of the two is a recipe for disaster in any organization. However, it just so happens that all three are run by the government.

    • Ted says:

      It’s a supply-demand problem. Too many people need care for us to continue providing it for so little.

  6. Lacey says:

    “10 new allegations about manipulated waiting times and other problems had surfaced since reports of problems at the Phoenix VA hospital came to light last month.”

    This is ridiculous. These people put their lives on the line for us, and now we’re treating them like this? It’s unacceptable, really.

  7. Ted says:

    “Critics say Helman was motivated to conceal delays to collect a bonus of about $9,000 last year.”

    Really? It was worth $9,000 to put people’s lives at risk? I’m glad they got put on leave.

  8. Laura says:

    How long have these wait times been so long as to affect the survivability of patients? Is there a dramatic influx recently in patients due to the aging veterans in conjunction with injuries from current conflicts in the Middle East? Or has the growth in patients been stable? Basically. Is there some sort of shock that is causing a drop in quality of care, or was there never any quality to begin with?

    • John R. Graham says:

      There may be a shock due to veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, but the VA budget has dramatically increased to deal with that.

      The crisis is more likely constant. It’s just that the wall of silence is seldom breached. After World War II, former President Hoover undertook a commission to examine the VA. He found gross waste and mismanagement.