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.
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.
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