Over 100,000 Veterans affected by Wait List Scandal

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Wait List Scandal

Benjamin KrauseData from the VA OIG investigation indicates that the Wait List Scandal potentially impacted over 100,000 veterans through extended wait times or not being listed on a wait list, at all. The investigation is VA’s attempt to answer the “who, what, when” of the scandal, and the feedback from it is shocking in scope.

Initially, CNN reported the scandal likely involved between 1,400 to 1,600 veterans in the Phoenix VAMC system. Later, the official number following VA OIG inspection was 1,700. Now that VA has conducted its thorough investigation of all VA health care facilities, we know the problem was systemic. Over 100,000 veterans were affected.

Policies leading up the scandal resulted in misrepresentations of wait list times affecting over 57,000 veterans. Another 64,000 veterans were not even on an electronic wait list waiting for appointments with VA doctors.

The audit conducted by VA OIG across 731 VA facilities revealed a plethora of problems. To address them in the short term, Secretary Sloan Gibson has implemented the following policies:

  1. Remove the 14-day scheduling goal: The 14-day scheduling goal is “unattainable” and encourages gaming of system to meet cash bonuses. Incentives will be removed.
  2. Establishing new patient surveys: Gibson has abolished the old standard regarding its reportedly biased patient surveys. New surveys may be more accurate.
  3. Accountability: Senior leaders caught up in this current scandal will be targeted for administrative action and/or dismissal.
  4. Hiring freeze: VA has implemented a hiring freeze except for noncritical positions.
  5. Increased medical staffing: VA will increase hiring at VHA facilities of doctors to help reduce wait times immediately.
  6. Increasing transparency: Wait time data will be published by VHA twice monthly.

Read More: https://www.disabledveterans.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/VHA-Wait-List-Audit-June-2014.pdf

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Voc Rehab Survival GuideBenjamin Krause is an award winning investigative reporter, Veterans Benefits Law attorney, and disabled veteran of the US Air Force, where he served in its Special Operations Command. He attended Northwestern University and  the University of Minnesota Law School using VA Vocational Rehabilitation. While in law school, Benjamin won his decade-long fight for full disability benefits and now helps others do the same with this website and his guide, the Voc Rehab Survival Guide for Veterans. Since its first publication in 2011, the guide has helped the veteran community receive millions in untapped benefits through the VA Chapter 31 Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment program. Connect with Benjamin on  ,  Twitter,  Facebook and LinkedIn.

 

 

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17 Comments

  1. All of Gibson’s recommendations are good.

    HOWEVER, since it has been alleged that VA officials were involved in numerous veterans’ deaths, why isn’t Obama ordering the DOJ AG Holder to criminally investigate these bureaucrats for homicide?

    Just proves that everything Obama does is for his political benefit.

    Just proves that Obama does not care about us veterans.

    Just proves that if we continue to vote for politicians like Obama then families of veterans killed at the VA will never get the justice they deserve.

    Prove you really care about veterans by demanding Obama criminally charge these bureaucrats for homicide.

    There is absolutely no reason why these bureaucrats should only suffer administrative penalties, if they committed homicide.

    DO NOT LET OBAMA MAKE YOU APOLOGIZE FOR YOUR VETERAN’S PRIVILEGE!

  2. Thank you Ben, for the update. I have serious issues with numbers 4 & 5 of Secretary Sloan Gibson list. So the hiring of more “noncritical staff” and “doctors” will solve the existing problems of the VA ? REALLY !! Based on my research, it was senior leaders & medical administration staff that were the “screw-up`s” and if they go thru with firing them all….I`m holding my breath… will veterans really get the care they need.

  3. SOUNDS GOOD, BUT I WILL WAIT ON THE “RESULTS”. SO MANY PROMISES HAVE BEEN “MADE”, BUT NOT KEPT, IT IS HARD TO BELIEVE ANYTHING. I WANT TO HAVE FAITH IN MY GOVT AGAIN, BUT AFTER 35+ YEARS OF “RED TAPE” AND LIES, IT WILL BE VERY DIFFICULT, TO SAY THE LEAST.
    THESE ARE THE REAL “TERERORISTS” TO OUR FREEDOM, THEY SHOULD BE TREATED AS SUCH, IF NOT HARSHER. THEY HAVE BETRAYED THE “PUBLIC TRUST”, SOMETHING OUR “ENEMIES” CAN NOT DO. TO CALL THEM “TRAITORS” WOULD BE TO “HONOR” THEM.
    I AM GOING TO PRAY FOR OUR LEADERS, THAT THEY FIND IT IN THEMSELVES, TO DO WHAT IS RIGHT. WE ALL FALL SHORT AT TIMES, AND NEED THE “GUIDANCE FROM ON HIGH”(GOD).

  4. Hmm ….. sounds really good …. but, i’m afraid this is another ‘slight of hand’ move by our government. For you older vets, remember President Nixon’s “de-Americanization of the Viet nam war”. That plan reduced the American presence in VN from 560,000 to 450,000 in 6 months ,,, sounded really good, except it was all bullshit. For you recent vets, the ‘de-Americanization” consisted of giving you PCS orders out of VN to Guam, or PI, or Okinawa, or someplace else, then when you got to your “new” permanent duty station, 3 days later you were sent back to Viet Nam under TDY orders — so you weren’t ‘actually’ stationed in VN, your PCS reflected Guam, PI or another place other than Dong Hoa, Da Nang, Chu Lai, etc..
    The end result will be, the VA, like the DOD, will create a new set of definitions that will ‘solve’ this wait list problem. That solution (whatever it is) will be palatable to the American people and provide veteran with another set of rules, policies and directives. The solutions will be a lot of extra hoops we vets will have to jump through to get the benefits that we not only DESERVE but were probised to us when we enlisted or got drafted.

  5. By the way President Obama is trying to take care of me. I just completed 36 semester hours of the VRAP and got upgraded to 90% disability. I heard about the problems with VA when I was about 16 years and now I am 62. Please don’t blame one President. VA needs a hell of lot of work!

  6. I am 100% disabled veteran living overseas and when I come back to the states I schedule my appointments well in advance, but the problem I have encountered is that I get an appointment and need a follow-up, but the follow-up is 3 to 6 months down the road. I can not stay in the states that long and even though the doctor says it is out of their hands they just do not have sufficient staff to do the job. I was under the understanding that as a 100% disabled I was suppose to get priority but it never works that way. Matter of fact when I make it known I live overseas they tend to try to give me all kinds of excuses not to be able to help me. So I will believe it when I see it on the new system. By the way I have seen an enormous problem since Obama got in office. It is far worse then when GW Bush was President. Yes, VA has had problems many years back, but it has steadily grown into a nightmare since Obama took office. It is beyond shameful.

  7. Myself and Most Every other Veteran will Not Hold their Breathe to see if Any Administrative or Any Other Slap on the wrist Accountability!! You Must Realize that this is the Most Conning and Corrupt Govt This Country has been used to seeing or Hearing about. They WILL DO MORE WRONG than Any Good for us Veterans unless We Veterans Don’t Do Something about it. Like Storming DC in the Masses and Literally Forcing these DC Bozos To Do Their Dam Job That they were Elected to do or We Demand for Their Resignation, Just Like during the Nixon era or the way the Last VA head Stepped Down. This Insane Criminal Corruption Has and MUST BE STOPPED at Once!!!!!!

  8. The government is no different than corporate america, leadership is blinded by money. My father-in-law always said “Power leads to corruption, it’s easier to be greedy than do the right thing”. That’s the world we live in, people love attention and will push the envelope until caught. Even those who portray themselves as good people are probably just giving a good sales pitch.

  9. The hiring freeze from what I understand involves admin personnel. This is my HUGE ISSUE with the VA. I am one of those admin personnel who is the tip of the spear in helping to hire these doctors and nurses and providers (I’m NOT complaining on the end goal). My complaint stems from my workload tripling and quadrupling in these last few days AND upper management refusing to send me even a volunteer to help with filing. I am simply overwhelmed.

    How about have enough foresight and build up your support system in order to handle the added workload. You can build it up with NTE > 1 year personnel or even redirecting Work Studies before you start a SURGE. Work Studies at my facility sit around most of the day (through no fault of their own) and wait for a Transport call (important job but not with about 15-20 volunteers/work studies manning the escort desk). How about placing some of these work studies in HR and Employee Health (physicals) and Nurse/Physician Recruiting and Credentialing to help with the added workload. All this extra hiring does is BOTTLENECK when it gets to me and to HR because there’s only so much you can do for 8 hours a day (and in my case and most of my co-workers: 10-11 hour workdays compensated as 8)

    • Very well said!
      Upper management IS the problem at the VA and most other “Departments of ____________” (fill in the blank with Defense, etc). Fixing that problem may be insurmountable, since “upper management” is the entity that determines ‘what” the problem is. Invariably, they determine the problem to be caused by someone, or something else, other than their ability to manage a very complicated system.
      Put your application in for upper management, you obviously have a good grasp of the problem.

  10. There are no IG’s at the Medical Center Level. Patients with complaints are to direct them to the Patient Advocate whose job it is to see that such complaints are handled at the Medical Center Level. This is a tough job and a backlog inevitably will arise. Some patients give up when they receive nothing in response for a long period of time.
    Efficiencies need to be injected into this system particularly in acknowledging receipt of a complaint and that a response will be received.
    The IG is only at the VA Department level and until this scandal, only dealt with matter concerning Fraud, Waste and Abuse of funds. It will be interesting to see if issues of inadequate medical care will continue to be included to be solicited from the field.

  11. I believe the IG recommended criminal prosecutions, no?
    To excise the corruption like a cancer.
    We have to hold them to this, or it’ll never improve.
    None of it.

  12. A friend is an ophthalmologist working at the VA. He has said a contributing factor of the problem is that each doctor has only one exam room assigned to them. If you have a veteran has a mobility problem, it takes longer to examine them. They have to get out of the wheelchair onto the exam table, or move around slowly because they use a walker. My friend indicated the doctors could see additional folks if they had two (or three) exam rooms assigned to each doctor. An examined veteran leaving one exam room while the doctor is in the 2nd exam room examining a veteran, while a veteran awaits in the 3rd room and the nurse is helping the 1st veteran out of the 1st exam room and/or assisting a new veteran from the waiting area into the 1st room.
    Civilian doctors have more than ONE exam room!
    Adapt, modify, overcome. Semper Fi

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