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More VA Fail: VA Falsified Vet Wait Times in 7 States

More VA Fail: VA Falsified Vet Wait Times in 7 States

They have one job. One. Job.

Is there a worse government entity than the Veterans Administration? Maybe, but it’s virtually inconceivable how the VA consistently manages to outdo it’s record of fail with even more fail.

In seven states, supervisor fudged wait times to make it appear as though wait time requirements were being met. They were not.

USA Today reported:

The newly released findings of those probes show that supervisors instructed schedulers to manipulate wait times in Arkansas, California, Delaware, Illinois, New York, Texas and Vermont, giving the false impression facilities there were meeting VA performance measures for shorter wait times.

In some cases, the system encouraged manipulation even without explicit instruction from supervisors. A manager in West Palm Beach, Fla., sent out laudatory emails touting the shorter wait times the system showed. Schedulers in Harlingen, Texas, reported being berated by supervisors when they booked appointments showing longer wait times for veterans. (It was “not pretty,” one employee said.)

In some cases — in Gainesville, Fla., White River Junction, Vt., and Philadelphia, for example — they found VA employees improperly kept lists of veterans needing care outside the scheduling system, a violation that also hid actual wait times.

The VA claims they’ve got in under control, people are being trained, yada yada governmentspeak yada:

The agency said it has retrained thousands of schedulers and is updating software to make it easier for them to book appointments properly. A pilot program at 10 facilities allows veterans to book their own appointments, and the VA expects to roll that out nationwide, according to David Shulkin, a physician who took over as undersecretary for health at the VA in June.

Shulkin told USA TODAY he also initiated two massive, same-day efforts to try to provide care sooner for more than 100,000 veterans, and he said the agency also has increased capacity to get wait times down.

“We’ve expanded appointments, we have added evening hours and weekend hours, we’ve added 3 million square feet of space, we’ve hired 14,000 new providers,” he said.

But whistleblowers tell a different story:

But VA whistle-blowers say schedulers still are manipulating wait times. Shea Wilkes, co-director of a group of more than 40 whistle-blowers from VA medical facilities in more than a dozen states, said the group continues to hear about it from employees across the country who are scared to come forward.

“Until the VA decides it truly wants to change its corrupt and poor culture, those who work on the front lines and possess the true knowledge relating to the VA’s continued data manipulation will remain quiet and in hiding because of fear of workplace harassment and retaliation,” said Wilkes, a social worker at the VA Medical Center in Shreveport, La.

This is not the first time the VA has said it would fix problems with scheduling. When the inspector general found in 2005 that VA schedulers were improperly booking appointments — and wait lists were therefore underestimated by as many as 10,000 veterans — the agency initiated a “national education plan” to retrain schedulers and supervisors. In 2010, VA officials discovered schedulers were using “gaming strategies” to falsify wait times to meet agency performance targets, and they required all schedulers to undergo new training, once again.

In the newly released reports, investigators found schedulers were using the same strategies. Most commonly, schedulers would start the wait clock on the day of the appointment they were booking rather than when the veteran wanted to be seen. The system then showed there was no wait time even if the veteran had to wait weeks or months for an appointment.

Because it wasn’t bad enough that one-third of the vets on the wait list passed away before receiving care, or that the wait times for care continue to climb, or that in the midst of this nasty scandal, VA officials awarded more than $142 million in bonuses…

The VA has one job to do, and they can’t seem to get it right.

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Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton drew the ire of veteran advocacy groups for saying the VA scandal was not, “as widespread as it was made out to be.” Despite calls to recant her remarks, Clinton refused to apologize.

Follow Kemberlee on Twitter @kemberleekaye

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Comments

Whiskey Bravo | April 8, 2016 at 8:34 pm

And no one is fired, jailed, or otherwise punished. So, since there is no penalty for falsification of records, it will continue, and not just continue but increase.

The only thing the next President will do is slow down the downward spiral, or increase its speed.

society has reached a “too late to turn back” state. So, either way, we’re going down as a nation. And there is nothing that can stop it. We can slow it down, but we will not stop this regression. Geez, I guess the group DEVO was right about something after all. . .

Headline: VA Falsified Wait Times In 7 States

Unspoken Headline: 43 States Still Have Not Been Checked To See If VA Falsified Wait Times There Too

2nd Ammendment Mother | April 8, 2016 at 10:00 pm

This was from the investigation into the El Paso VA:

” The El Paso VA has been cleared of intentional wrongdoing when it comes to scheduling appointments. After speaking with employees and their supervisors, the Department of Veteran Affairs and Inspector General found the VA clinic staff in El Paso consistently entered false information into the record books. This meant collected data failed to show veterans were having difficulties booking an appointment in a timely manner. more than 36 percent of veterans who tried to schedule a mental health appointment said they were unable to get one. It also found an average of 71 days between the request and an actual appointment and 77 percent of those requesting an appointment indicated they waited more than 14 days.”

So… yes, they were entering false information to disguise lengthy wait times but it wasn’t really anyone’s fault…. nothing to see here citizens…. move along.

Richard Aubrey | April 8, 2016 at 10:11 pm

They’re using the IRS defense: “We’re federal employees and there’s not a G.D. thing you can do about it, so screw you.”

IT seems to me there are several problems intertwined here, all accumulating into the formula that dead Vets = performance bonus’s. If they can only kill off enough vets they won’t have to worry about their lack of integrity being pointed out, while all the while bragging at how much they’ve saved the VA system in speedy service! A dead vet can’t complain and is willing to take any appointment you give them!

Also, like Richard Aubrey said, it’s near impossible to get fired for wrong doing once a person is hired at the VA – it just doesn’t happen. People are reassigned to another facility before they’re fired.

It’s absolutely AMAZING that all these stories about the V.A., and yet you never hear the name of the senator who is CHAIRMAN of the Veterans’ Affairs committee, none other than Senator John Isakson of Georgia, a republican.

How does he keep his name out of those headlines? I suspect, because he’s basically a democrat, the Georgia media spare him a mention!

The VA is and was beyond repair or reform. They not only didn’t discipline the nearly 200 managers who falsified wait times & took & awarded bonuses based on the fake numbers (two were disciplined internally, none fired), they didn’t even ask for the bonus $$ paid under false pretense back!

Close it down, give vets vouchers for medical care, transfer needed functions, fire all employees except whistle-blowers. It is the ONLY solution.

    bobtuba in reply to Estragon. | April 9, 2016 at 10:55 am

    Absolutely. Although there are good people in the VA, mostly found in the ranks of clinicians, nurses, health techs, etc. there is unfortunately an ARMY of administrators, lawyers, managers, bureaucrats, affirmative action non-fireable hires, and various other rent-seekers among whom malfeasance and criminal conduct seem to be the norm. And guess what? The VA doesn’t hire veterans!! Except to push mops. They are generally not be be found in any higher up management positions. Burn it down. The good people will quickly find work elsewhere; the demand will still be there.

This is our experience with govt run healthcare, yet the progs want the govt to take over ALL of it? They are truly insane.

Another Voice | April 9, 2016 at 6:05 pm

Hillary Clinton drew the ire of veteran advocacy groups for saying the VA scandal was not, “as widespread as it was made out to be.” Despite calls to recant her remarks, Clinton refused to apologize.

With this said, any hope of reform would be a non-starter if she were to be elected. So when will our VETs get the benefits promised?

buckeyeminuteman | April 11, 2016 at 12:44 pm

Maybe they ought to put some actual VETERANS in charge of this bureaucracy. It wouldn’t be such a CHARLIE FOXTROT and I guarantee people wouldn’t be waiting as long as they are.

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