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Making Sense of the VA Scandal | U.S. PATRIOT NEWS & REVIEWS

Making Sense of the VA Scandal

Although the VA waiting list scandal has been pushed off the front pages by the latest administration scandal, new accusations and information are still coming out. The most recent is the revelation that waiting lists were used in VA hospitals in the Midwest.

These waiting lists were not as extensive as the ones in the Phoenix VA but are troubling because what was thought to be a flaw in the system is even more widespread than anyone had feared. According to the preliminary analysis of the data by the Department of Veterans Affairs, over 57,000 veterans have had their scheduling misrepresented and another 64,000 were not on the list for appointments even after they had requested them.

Over 100,000 veterans have had their care delayed or ignored.

The analysis was based on examining 731 VA hospitals and clinics, and it found waiting times for appointments were overly long throughout the system. The 14-day scheduling goal is not realistic with the current staffing and management system.

Sloan Gibson, Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Sloan Gibson, Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Sloan Gibson, interim director of the VA after the resignation of Eric Shinseki, has announced reforms to the system. They include:

  • Suspension of the 14-day appointment goal: This goal is considered unattainable and led to employees ‘gaming’ the system to attain the goal and earn cash bonuses. Incentives are being eliminated to prevent this from happening again.
  • Accountability: Outside audits will be conducted at all the facilities that have been identified as having had their scheduling practices compromised. Senior administration officials at facilities that have gamed the system will be removed.
  • Partial hiring freeze: With the exception of critical staffing, the VA is suspending hiring at regional health care offices.
  • Accelerated hiring of healthcare staff: The hiring of doctors, nurses and healthcare staff will be accelerated to maintain and improve care for veterans in the system.
  • Increased transparency: A twice-monthly update for waiting time data will be made available.

Additionally, a team is being sent to Phoenix to fix the problems with that facility’s scheduling, appointment backlog, and the recordkeeping problems that first brought this scandal to light. The Phoenix facility has the most severe problem, with over 1,700 veterans waiting for initial appointments after 90 days or more.

Phoenix VA Health Care Center

Whether acting Secretary Gibson can solve all of the problems plaguing the VA hospital system with the resources he currently has depends on people being aware of the issue and keeping it in the news and in people’s minds. Letting this issue drift back into obscurity will not help any of the veterans served (or not served) by the current VA hospital system. These abuses have to be corrected and we are obligated to help our veterans. Making sure that this issue is not forgotten is the first step in ensuring this type of behavior never happens again.

Disclaimer: The opinions in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the views of this website. This author accepts all responsibility for the opinions and viewpoints in this article.

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Matt Towns

Matt is a former military journalist who spent 10 years in the US Navy. He served in various posts during his career, including a couple of deployments on the USS Valley Forge (CG-50). After leaving the Navy, he worked in management for a number of years before opening his own businesses. He ran those businesses until 2012 when he chose to leave the retail industry and return to writing. Matt currently works as a freelance writer, contributing to the US Patriot blog and other websites about political affairs, military activities and sailing.
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1 thought on “Making Sense of the VA Scandal

  1. The VA systemic scheduling problems are by no means the only problems the VA has which are detrimental to our Veterans. An independent audit of each of the 21 VA regions is imperative.

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