57,000 Veterans Waiting more than 3 Months for First Medical Appointments; 64,000 Not Even on the List

Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Sloan Gibson

The numbers are in at the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), revealing just how many veterans have endured long waits to get medical care.

 

Those waiting more than three months for a doctor’s appointment: 57,000. Those left off waiting lists, leaving them completely out of the loop: 64,000.

 

A VA audit (pdf) exposed the startling figures that have turned the agency into a political punching bag, with Democrats and Republicans excoriating its leadership.

 

With the resignation of secretary Eric Shinseki, the acting man in charge, Sloan Gibson, has promised to take immediate action to help reduce the backlog and get more veterans in to see physicians.

 

Gibson intends to authorize the expenditure of $300 million to expand medical staff availability and to hire outside clinics to alleviate some of the medical system overload.

 

The VA healthcare system has struggled to keep up with demand from two different veterans’ populations: Afghanistan and Iraq vets who are requiring more medical and other help than their predecessors; and Vietnam veterans seeking more assistance than before, including those diagnosed with ailments related to Agent Orange.

 

Wait times to see a doctor have varied wildly across the country at VA hospitals and medical facilities. In some locations, like Bedford, Massachusetts, the average time is only 17 days. But in places like Baltimore, veterans have gone more than 80 days without seeing a physician.

 

At the Phoenix VA clinic, where allegations of fraud and other improprieties triggered the VA inspector general’s investigation, three officials have been removed from their positions and mobile medical units have been brought in to supplement patient care.

-Noel Brinkerhoff

 

To Learn More:

VA Audit: 57,000 Veterans Waiting more than 90 days for Appointment at Medical Facilities (by Greg Jaffe and Josh Hicks, Washington Post)

Audit Shows Extensive Medical Delays for Tens of Thousands of Veterans (by Richard Oppel Jr., New York Times)

System-Wide Overview (Department of Veterans Affairs) (pdf)

Results of Access Audit Conducted May 12, 2014, through June 3, 2014 (Department of Veterans Affairs) (pdf)

VA Internal Report Confirms False Reports by Phoenix Office (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Danny Biederman, AllGov)

To Quell Scandal, VA Announces Forced Retirement of Official…Who Actually Announced his Planned Retirement 8 Months Ago (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

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