Wait List: VA redefined it ‘Interim Work Product’, then Destroyed It

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Wait List

Last night, VA confirmed our suspicions that it was playing word games to avoid oversight by spinning the Wait List Scandal.

According to testimony last night, VA first redefined the “Wait List” as “Interim Work Product” at Phoenix VAMC. They then destroyed the files since they were not regular “Wait List” documents governed by normal laws that prevent improper destruction.

VA OIG released its interim report on the Wait List Scandal investigation yesterday. In response, the House Committee on Veterans Affairs held a late night hearing to interrogate VA over discrepancies.

[See the Wait List House Committee Hearing tape here.]

Here are a couple other highlights from the hearing.

VA refused to identify which employee or employees were behind the improper destruction. Dr. Lynch, a lead investigator, also skirted many pointed questions as to why VA investigators failed to discuss concerns on the Wait List with the facility director. Dr. Lynch also stated he failed to talk with Dr. Foote about the initial whistleblower allegations. Dr. Foote is the first whistleblower identified by CNN with the scandal. Yet, Dr. Lynch claimed he conducted a thorough initial investigation.

As of yesterday, the Wait List Scandal potentially impacted 1,700 veterans in some way, per the VA OIG report. The report is called, Review of Patient Wait Times, Scheduling Practices, and Alleged Patient Deaths at the Phoenix Health Care System. I grabbed a copy of it and uploaded it on this site in case VA later finds something in it worth covering up.

Here is a quote from that report:

“To date, our work has substantiated serious conditions at the Phoenix HCS. We identified about 1,400 veterans who did not have a primary care appointment but were appropriately included on the Phoenix HCS’ EWLs. However, we identified an additional 1,700 veterans who were waiting for a primary care appointment but were not on the EWL. Until that happens, the reported wait time for these veterans has not started. Most importantly, these veterans were and continue to be at risk of being forgotten or lost in Phoenix HCS’s convoluted scheduling process. As a result, these veterans may never obtain a requested or required clinical appointment. A direct consequence of not appropriately placing veterans on EWLs is that the Phoenix HCS leadership significantly understated the time new patients waited for their primary care appointment in their FY 2013 performance appraisal accomplishments, which is one of the factors considered for awards and salary increases.

“To review the new patient wait times for primary care in FY 2013, we reviewed a statistical sample of 226 Phoenix HCS appointments. VA national data, which was reported by Phoenix HCS, showed these 226 veterans waited on average 24 days for their first primary care appointment and only 43 percent waited more than 14 days. However, our review showed these 226 veterans waited on average 115 days for their first primary care appointment with approximately 84 percent waiting more than 14 days. At this time, we believe that most of the waiting time discrepancies occurred because of delays between the veteran’s requested appointment date and the date the appointment was created. However, we found that in at least 25 percent of the 226 appointments reviewed, evidence, in veterans’ medical records, indicates that these veterans received some level of care in the Phoenix HCS, such as treatment in the emergency room, walk in clinics, or mental health clinics.”

Beyond this, if you are curious about how VA has been spinning this issue, check out an article from a couple weeks ago on VA Scandal Spinning Techniques.

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8 Comments

  1. Oh my dear heaven, This is a haunting refrain being played at our VA even as we speak ( Bay Pines Fl.) Any of you folks that I have spoken with, mainly in the disability rating and groundwork area, have heard me bemoan, yes I #itch alot when the wind stinks, and boy has it gotten rotten here in Seminole Florida in the last 10 yrs. I have also said that in the last 2-5 yrs that I distrust them so greatly I don’t even use them as a health care resource, by the way, I was forcibly given a new primary over a yr ago ( went into private practice I am lead to understand, who can blame him when you try to help your patients and you aren’t allowed by some …lets say dumb as$ed dietary clerk ) I have NEVER been given a primary care appt with this new Dr. even after a year of requests. Glad not to have cancer, know what I mean ?

  2. When I watched the House VA Committee hearing last night, it became apparent early on that this was going to the usual dog & pony show where the VA officials hedge their answers with qualifications before giving ANY answer evoked by the questions from the committee members. They either “didn’t know” since it was somebody else’s area of responsibility or they would “work to get that answer for you,” such as repeatedly refrained by Ms. Mooney, the head of VA’s Office of Legislative Liaison or OLA. When Rep. Michaud (R-ME) hammered Mooney on why the committee members and their staff could not get direct access to the VA Information Technology (IT) staff at VA Central Office (VACO), Mooney’s answers were increasingly evasive. She denied interfering with the VACO IT staff from talking directly to the VA committee members or their staff. As for most of her answers, the committee members plainly stated that they really knew nothing more than before the hearing due to the evasive nature of her answers. Fortunately, Rep. Coffman and others stated flatly that the 3 VA executives on the panel should find other jobs outside the VA.

    The answers by Dr. Lynch about his “investigation” at Phoenix VAMC were equally stupefying when he admitted that he never really spoke to anyone who had direct involvement in the creation or maintenance of the illegal secret waiting list. And had no clue who actually had the secret list before it was illegally destroyed or who ordered its destruction, or who actually performed the destruction in violation of the records retention laws that govern official Govt. records. Talk about gross incompetence and malfeasance!! Just idiotic.

    This VA panel may as well have been the Three Stooges from VACO. Ms. Mooney came across with her contrived tightly wrapped country club housewife demeanor and hedged every answer in her theatrical soft-voice. I’ve seen these types before when working as a busboy at country clubs in my hometown. You know right off that they are trying oh-so-hard to project a persona of controlled decency and propriety — when you know that behind closed doors they can just like “female dogs” guarding their newborn puppies. And they type that would swear to God in heaven that they have never, ever farted at any time in their entire life.

    THE WHOLE HEARING WAS A FARCE IN MOTION — AND MADE ME FART A LOT..

    • I agree the hearing was a farce. I lost count of how many times the good doctor said our first priority is to deliver quality healthcare to out veterans. He looked and acted like the typical bureaucrat. When he revealed he came from academia and never worked in the private sector, all my doubts about his lack of ability solidified.

      Ms. Mooney was flopping around like a fish out of water. She made little eye contact and knows she is part of the problem. Somewhere in the testimony is they are not releasing information, first requested and then subpoenaed, because someone within the department is saying it is privileged communication according to the general counsel. When asked who that person was, she stammered and stalled and finally said she is not part of the Special Council Office. You knew she was lying.

      Instead of farting, I was screaming at the computer.

  3. Obama’s big fat middle finger to you, me, and other veterans demonstrates his willful disdain for veterans.

    In fact, Democrats are now circling the wagons to protect Obama from his latest scandal.

    While veterans are dying due to the VA scandal, Democrat Congressman Hoyer now says the VA investigation is a witch hunt and that it should not be thoroughly investigated.

    Also, some high-level Democrats are now claiming that veterans never emailed them about their concerns about the scandals occurring at the VA.

    Democrat Congressman Michaud now says NOT ONE SINGLE VETERAN has emailed him about horror stories experienced at the VA.

    He claims that the typical veteran’s email he receives is usually over travel pay.

    Seriously?

    Either we as veterans are just complaining to complain on Ben’s blog or we are also emailing our elected leaders about our own horror stories at the VA.

    I call BS on Hoyer and Michaud.

    If Democrats are already delaying, denying, and lying about this VA scandal, then we must hold them personally responsible at the ballot box!

    DO NOT LET THESE CORRUPT AND ARROGRANT JERKS MAKE YOU CHECK YOUR VETERANS’ PRIVILEGE!

    [In the spirit of bipartisanship here on Ben’s blog, I accuse RINOS of hating on veterans, too. Remember the RINO Party’s rising star, Paul Ryan, when he aggressively attacked retired service members for receiving too much retirement pay and he wanted to severely cut their pensions?]

    • I am 62 years old and I heard that VA had serious problems when I was15 or 16 years old. How can anyone blame one presidential administration? In fact, the Secretary of Defense Charles Timothy “Chuck” Hagel used to work for VA. After Reagan’s inauguration as President, Hagel was named deputy administrator of the Veterans Administration. In 1982, however, he resigned his post over a disagreement with VA Administrator Robert P. Nimmo, who was intent on cutting funding for VA programs. Nimmo had referred to veterans groups as “greedy”, and to Agent Orange as not much worse than a “little teenage acne.

      President Obama should fire the Honorable Eric K. Shinseki. I have to always show respect to the titles of our leaders. President Obama is not screwing the vets. I just completed a one-year $20K educational program, approved by President Obama. Please let me know what you think?

  4. Ben, I did not read the rest of this where they stated “ALL OF THE INDIVIDUALS INVOLVED IN THIS HAVE BEEN FIRED. NONE WILL RECEIVE RETIREMENT OR A RETIREMENT PACKAGE THAT WILL ALOWW THEM TO GET ANY BENEFITS OR RELOCATED WITHIN THE VA SYSTEM”. Oh yeah, that was never part of this, they say all of this stuff that should get people fired and nothing is done. It is getting so ridiculous that I think people will start to get tired of hearing about this as nothing is getting done. No repercussions, no need to hear another story about the VA. Some one, somewhere has to be able to and willing to put their name and career on the line and back us up. We really do not have a “voice” that will ever be heard to the point that something will be done. They do the typical “damage control” and go on. And the whole time us vets are the ones who suffer and suffer up to the point we die. How is this acceptable in this country. I am like minman and I #itch continuously over things I see wrong. If we all start doing this maybe we can start something that will take hold. I am so ticked at the VA that I am trying to do what I can to spread the word and let other vets know that it is your right to complain and continue to do so until you are satisfied with the results. You may have to jump some hurdles and make a few people mad but remember, if they do not take care of your health, you may be the next one that is no longer here on this earth. If you are OK with dying because of the VA, then keep doing what you are doing but these Dr’s, ARNP’s and other people in the Med field in your VA hospital, CBOC, ETC… are making a six figure salary a year to help you. If they can make that much, they can help you. If they try to rush you out of their office and say something like “our time is over” and you still need something understood, or need the Dr. to know something, ETC… do not get up but state that there is still things we need to discuss and he/she can deal with the other patients that are waiting. I have waited almost an hour because a Dr. was behind and I did not mind as I know he was helping other vets and that is what is important. I am OK with having to wait if that is the case.

  5. I was in the Marines, enlisted ranks, then later in the Army, and I recall that Marine basic training as well as officer training in the Army both heavily emphasized the importance of not quibbling. Quibbling, as you may recall, is a process where a enlisted recruit, or officer candidate, cleverly evades correction, truth and facts, and progress, by basically denying they did something wrong or failed to perform properly. This goes all the way to the top at the VA, they are all quibblers, and another less than nice name for that is “liar”; such a terrible, but accurate word. They redefine bonuses as performance incentives, wait lists as interim work product, so you have to ask, what else are they redefining? How about illegal, felonious organ harvesting by deliberately killing healthy veterans then selling them on their own little black market with transplants done for the super-wealthy right there in VA hospitals. I think they are calling this one “uncondoned organ re-assignments”. No, the VA would never do that. Really? A private investigator with moderate skills could walk into any med-surge VA hospital and find proof and irrefutable evidence within a couple of hours. If you know a P.I. interested in such a case that will make them famous, remember to tell them to dress up like a VA doctor, and most of all, be arrogant, obnoxious and act incompetent so no one will suspect anything. Oh, and don’t forget to get it all on video.

  6. I believe that there is a disparity between Officers and Enlisted and that Enlisted are being refused or made to wait longer for VA Benefits than Officer. I am a Lt Col retired at 20 years and I see this but no study from the VA addresses this issue. Is RHIP prevalent in the VA?

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