Veterans who sign up with the Department of Veterans Affairs face months of waiting before they see a health care provider, according to a Government Accountability Office report.
The review spoke to 180 newly enrolled veterans. Sixty of them had not had their visits with providers by the time the review was published. Almost half of them did not get appointments scheduled, according to the Veterans Health Administration policy.
The report found variations in obtaining appointments. Out of the 120 that did get appointments, the time between veterans asking to be contacted and the veteran getting an appointment ranged from 22 to 71 days.
The report said that few appointments are available, and there is no "comprehensive scheduling policy." The report cited confusion about policy as the cause of errors in reliable wait-time information.
For new signups, the VHA counts wait times from when the veterans want an appointment, instead of when they make the request to get the appointment. The information doesn't accurately note how much time veterans are actually waiting, the report said.
"This report proves what we've long known; wait-time manipulation continues at VA and the department's wait-time rhetoric doesn't match up with the reality of veterans' experiences," Rep. Jeff Miller, the committee chairman said, The Washington Post reports.
The Veterans Administration has been under fire since 2007, with cases that involved poor hospital conditions and fraudulent recordkeeping, Newt Gingrich wrote in The Washington Times.
The VA "will need radical surgery if it is to survive," wrote Gingrich.
Miller said the problems in the report were not a surprise, "given the fact that VA has successfully fired just four people for wait-time manipulation while letting the bulk of those behind its nationwide delays-in-care scandal off with no discipline or weak slaps on the wrist."
The Military Times reported
that VA Secretary Bob McDonald told the committee that reforms are under way that would improve care by the end of the year.
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