Get in line: 57,000 veterans waiting for initial appointments at the VA

posted at 1:31 pm on June 9, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

And they’ve been waiting a long time, too. The Associated Press reports on an internal audit from more than 700 VA facilities shows that 57,000 veterans have waited 90 or more days for their initial medical appointment, let alone for any advanced care that might be needed. Another 64,000 have been enrolled in the VA health-care system for more than ten years without ever getting to see a doctor:

The Veterans Affairs Department says more than 57,000 patients are still waiting for initial medical appointments at VA hospitals and clinics 90 days or more after requesting them. An additional 64,000 who enrolled in the VA health care system over the past 10 years have never had appointments.

The audit confirms that 13% of scheduling staff received instruction in how to fraudulently cover up the horrendous wait times and access issues. The rest of the wait-list issue gets chalked up to a “complicated” appointment scheduling process and “confusion” among staff on how to manage it.

Will anyone buy that? It’s important to remember that this is the result of an internal audit run by the VA on orders from Eric Shinseki before he resigned under an avalanche of public pressure on the VA scandal. No one has yet conducted an outside audit, although the Inspector General is conducting an independent investigation of the Phoenix facilities which became the epicenter of the scandal. For an idea of why an internal audit may not produce the whole truth and nothing but the truth, read Lindsay Wise’s McClatchy report on the internal culture of the VA and the complete lack of effort at reform over the last several years:

It has a management culture marred by cronyism, intimidation and poor oversight from the Department of Veterans Affairs central office. It has a performance-based bonus system that rewards those who falsify records to meet unrealistic quotas. And it simultaneously penalizes supervisors who don’t push their employees to “cook the books.”

“If you weren’t going to crack people’s heads, if you didn’t put people’s feet to the fire, they didn’t want you around,” said Charleston Ausby, a Marine Corps veteran from Sugar Land, Texas, who worked as a VA veterans service representative from 2002 to 2012.

Ausby said he and his co-workers routinely came under pressure to reduce the VA’s record disability-claims backlog by misfiling or mislabeling old claims that had been pending for years to make them appear in the computer system as though they were new claims.

Like “cooking the books” at VA hospitals to conceal delays in medical care, the practice of manipulating claims data made it seem as though veterans weren’t waiting as long for decisions on their benefits as they really were, Ausby said.

The solution to this problem isn’t more money. The VA budget is 78% larger than in FY2008, the fastest-growing Cabinet agency by percentage in the Obama era, which received $235 billion in extra funding over the FY2008 baseline budget since then. The extra resources appear to have simply evaporated in the bureaucracy. Nor is the answer just more effective political appointees all by itself. Shinseki was a highly-regarded four-star general who got blindsided by the scandal. He later claimed that he trusted the organization too much, which is a bit absurd since both Shinseki and Obama made a point in 2008 and 2009 to criticize the VA for its long wait times and bureaucratic inertia in dealing with the issues.

The problem with the VA is that it’s bureaucracy-focused, not customer-focused, because they have a captive customer base. The only real solution is introducing competition for non-service-related medical issues, but even then the proposed reforms only provide conditional access to private-sector care — and makes the same bureaucracy that produced fraudulent wait-list metrics the gatekeeper on the basis of the same wait-list metrics. Only in Washington does that get called reform.


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Get in line: 57,000 veterans waiting for initial appointments at the VA

But, if your name is Jose, Maria, Juan and you are coming from Mejico in the invasion you will get freebies out the wahzoo.

Better, if you’re a crying child you’re on the red-carpet to the teat of the Federal sow in the blink of an eye.

Are we not surrounded in D.C. with those that despise traditional America?

PappyD61 on June 9, 2014 at 1:35 PM

Kill it before it kills more of our veterans.

NotCoach on June 9, 2014 at 1:36 PM

This is one vet that will never use VA medical resources.

Bitter Clinger on June 9, 2014 at 1:39 PM

They keep giving out the money to administrators. God, that makes me mad.

djl130 on June 9, 2014 at 1:42 PM

57,000 veterans waiting for initial appointments at the VA

Oh stop being such babies veterans, shut up and salute your CinC.
The VA is busy providing quality healthcare to every TB and MERS carrying Maria, Mohamed and Ming housed in military bases right now.

burrata on June 9, 2014 at 1:42 PM

“With that many people we have to….wait for itRATION our services!!” But that won’t be the case with National Health Care!! HaHaHaHa!!

Deano1952 on June 9, 2014 at 1:43 PM

Finally. An actual scandal.

libfreeordie on May 19, 2014 at 3:48 PM

Schadenfreude on June 9, 2014 at 1:43 PM

Deserters and terrorists don’t have to wait.

faraway on June 9, 2014 at 1:44 PM

The congress asked when Holder will investigate and he has not answered. It’s been months. Holder is very quiet, lately, the thug, who’s supposed to be the national prosecutor.

Schadenfreude on June 9, 2014 at 1:44 PM

Well, at least this scandal isn’t about Obama committing treason… Or, is it?

oscarwilde on June 9, 2014 at 1:45 PM

Leftists hate the Soldiers, except ahead of elections.

Bergdahl has excellent care.

Schadenfreude on June 9, 2014 at 1:45 PM

HOW LONG do SENATORS and CONGRESSMAN have to wait to see the doctor?

originalpechanga on June 9, 2014 at 1:46 PM

Where is the socialist senator on firing the thugs?

Schadenfreude on June 9, 2014 at 1:46 PM

Leftists hate the Soldiers, except ahead of elections.

Bergdahl has excellent care.

Schadenfreude on June 9, 2014 at 1:45 PM

As also Miss Bradley Manning

burrata on June 9, 2014 at 1:47 PM

Biggest news of the day, week, year, 6 years of Obama.

WIDE OPEN BORDERS

Millions of illegals flooding into the U.S.A..

Taking jobs from veterans at the low end of wages.

Bringing in evil crime, sickness, drugs, and all a crime.

Now Obama and the commie Democrats sink so low as to use children as battering rams abinst the U.S.A.

On Hot Air,,,,,,

Not one article.

Who pays off Hot Air? is the question.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on June 9, 2014 at 1:47 PM

VA has always been like this. Give the vets a card that says “bill the US Govn’t”.

Rank disgusting stupidity.

antisense on June 9, 2014 at 1:48 PM

This is the window into Odumbocare. Death Panels are real.

rjoco1 on June 9, 2014 at 1:49 PM

Who pays off Hot Air? is the question.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on June 9, 2014 at 1:47 PM

Hot Air never covers new events that might provoke bitter clinging right wing extremist terrorists to take physical action. Hot Air only approves of rhetorical keyboard banging.

oscarwilde on June 9, 2014 at 1:50 PM

No one has yet conducted an outside audit, although the Inspector General is conducting an independent investigation of the Phoenix facilities which became the epicenter of the scandal.

This VA is waaaaaayyy beyond audit now,
it needs to be investigated by forensic accountants after being turned over to someone like Romney and then killers and hitmen in the VA should be prosecuted and punished under RICO . Maybe we can have Rudy Guiliani go after the VA mafia, he has some experience.

burrata on June 9, 2014 at 1:52 PM

APACHEWHOKNOWS on June 9, 2014 at 1:47 PM

They finally threw us a bone last night..
otherwise, crickets.

bazil9 on June 9, 2014 at 1:54 PM

Get in line in AZ behind the illegal immigrants.

BuckeyeSam on June 9, 2014 at 1:54 PM

I know a lady who (now retired and moved away from there) used to work for the Alabama Disability Determinations racket.

They were obligated by law to process applications within 6 months yet had backlogs of over a year and a half. So, according to her description (which I trust) lots of those applications went into locked rooms (sometimes accidentally left unlocked) in the building out of sight out of mind and apparently would game it to deny claims and then require reapplication. Simply because they couldn’t keep employees (from other mismanagement and graft) sufficient to do the work.

Apparently the Disability racket’s director’s brother was a judge in inner-city Birmingham so he was “protected” much like Scrushy was “protected” by their tennis-partner judge neighbor at least until it finally hit the fan for the HealthSouth swindle.

So, this is nothing new.

It permeates most federal bureaucracies and the back-scratching, embezzlements and coverups, as usual.

viking01 on June 9, 2014 at 1:57 PM

You know what Obama will do? He’ll hire more union workers to make more appointments for doctors they don’t hire. Problem solved.

Cindy Munford on June 9, 2014 at 1:58 PM

Fascists ultimately build camps for these kinds of people

faraway on June 9, 2014 at 1:59 PM

I suspect – fear – the “mainstream” Republican position will be that “we can manage it better,” much like the “conservative” politicians in single-payer havens like Canada and the U.K.

Read up on the official government “surgical wait times” for the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Ontario.

All of the propaganda is replete with lines like “Reducing wait times for key health services is an important part of the Ontario government’s strategy to transform healthcare in the province to ensure the system is patient-centred and responsive to local needs.”

Look familiar? It will before long.

Drained Brain on June 9, 2014 at 1:59 PM

APACHEWHOKNOWS on June 9, 2014 at 1:47 PM

QOTD last night. And oddly enough, people stayed on topic for quite a while.

Cindy Munford on June 9, 2014 at 2:00 PM

As also Miss Bradley Chelsea Manning

burrata on June 9, 2014 at 1:47 PM

corrected

Sven on June 9, 2014 at 2:02 PM

Treblinka was a single payer solution

faraway on June 9, 2014 at 2:02 PM

The problem with the VA is that it’s bureaucracy-focused, not customer-focused, because they have a captive customer base.

The Death Panels are real. Trust me, they are real.

/Shaking my head

Key West Reader on June 9, 2014 at 2:03 PM

Schadenfreude on June 9, 2014 at 1:43 PM

Why does any thinking human being, contra Libby Freordie and its ilk, think that any good comes from government? OK, it can wage war and get people killed. And yes, there is a certain minimalist-existential thing that they do OK. But why does anyone trust Leviathan?

Chuck Ef on June 9, 2014 at 2:06 PM

VA Death Camps

faraway on June 9, 2014 at 2:07 PM

“War on Vets”

Sven on June 9, 2014 at 2:08 PM

Quick! Put the VA scandal back on the front page!

(now the the Bergdahl squirrel has blown up in our faces in spectacular fashion…)

CurtZHP on June 9, 2014 at 2:12 PM

Single payer will fix this.

Because any problem that government creates, the solutions that government forces on us are far worse.

jukin3 on June 9, 2014 at 2:20 PM

#BuckFarack x 75,000

Nutstuyu on June 9, 2014 at 2:24 PM

make that 57,000

Nutstuyu on June 9, 2014 at 2:24 PM

I’m a Vet works the Comp side of the VA. I can’t defend The Helath side of the business, but let me point something out. First, the numbers reflect less than one percent of patients that it is claimed have not been given an appointment in 10 years. If someone has failed after ten years of asking for treatment or an appointment it is one, they keep moving around and fail to prosecute their intial request, often moving to a different jurisdiction and reapplying. Two, they may not have an actual applicable reason for care. The Health system is not free. although it is fee-based. Generally a Veteran has to have a condition that is related to or occured during military service. The knuckleheads on here must think wow, someone served in the military, it’s free care for life – EVEN IF THEY HAVE A CAR WRECK TEN YEARS after SERVICE. That’s ludicrious, but it is exactly the type of issues confronting the VA on a daily basis.

I know from experience that the 64,000 number is complete BS. You call for care, get no response, you call back, and call back, and call back. You go to the MEdical Center and complain. You get a Service Organization who I promise knows just who to complain to about such a situation. No one trying to get seen – and has legitimate cause or need or qualifying service to be seen – will go past a year to get an appointment.

I’m also a disabled Veteran and yeah, it’s a good wait to get care. But you do get it. It’s not always the best. Maybe it seldom is. But it’s there.

That’s the reality.

Disclaimer: I’m not a spokesman for the VA and these views are my own based on my personal and working experience.

Klick the Dick on June 9, 2014 at 2:28 PM

Klick the Dick on June 9, 2014 at 2:28 PM

Oh, well, in that case…nothing to see here folks. King Barry is still the bestest firstest white/black Preezy ever!!1!1!!11!!!!

Nutstuyu on June 9, 2014 at 2:34 PM

CurtZHP on June 9, 2014 at 2:12 PM

All the scandals are enough to make one nauseous.

dogsoldier on June 9, 2014 at 2:35 PM

An additional 64,000 who enrolled in the VA health care system over the past 10 years have never had appointments.

This is a direct result of Congress and the TAMP Laws passed. Every Vet who was deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq is entitled to 5 years of free Medical Care at the VA. When they out process from the Military a VA Rep of some kind (VA, DAV, AMVETS, VFW, American Legion, etc.) gets these guys and gals to register with the VA. Most never call to get an appointment, but they are registered in the system. To them it is just a checkmark on their out processing sheet.

Johnnyreb on June 9, 2014 at 2:39 PM

Klick the Dick on June 9, 2014 at 2:28 PM

At least you are honest and told us you work there. The facts that have been released regarding this scandal tend to disagree with you. They show a systemic dishonorable treatment of veterans. I have not read anyone here post anything like this:

The knuckleheads on here must think wow, someone served in the military, it’s free care for life – EVEN IF THEY HAVE A CAR WRECK TEN YEARS after SERVICE. That’s ludicrious, but it is exactly the type of issues confronting the VA on a daily basis.

Except a couple trolls, who I haven’t seen lately.

dogsoldier on June 9, 2014 at 2:41 PM

Any source of data details for the audit?

Definitely need that independent third party audit. In lieu of that, there may be another way to identify root cause issues.

Some VA facilities are already being audited by TJC. Others are not. It would be interesting to see a comparative analysis on the noncompliance rates of the respective facilities.

If it can be proven that there is a significant discrepancy, then that definitely substantiates the need for external auditing and the positive impact that it has on quality of care.

Still hoping that (R) legislators will have the sense to wait for a full external audit before throwing more money at the system. Utilization review could show other issues to be of higher priority than number of providers. If that proves to be true, throwing money out there for things not needed won’t help our Vets much.

lineholder on June 9, 2014 at 2:46 PM

The knuckleheads on here must think wow, someone served in the military, it’s free care for life – EVEN IF THEY HAVE A CAR WRECK TEN YEARS after SERVICE. That’s ludicrious, but it is exactly the type of issues confronting the VA on a daily basis.

how long has it been since you were told to gfy?
asking for a service connected disabled vet..

dmacleo on June 9, 2014 at 2:50 PM

Disclaimer: I’m not a spokesman for the VA and these views are my own based on my personal and working experience.

Klick the Dick on June 9, 2014 at 2:28 PM

Why is there a bonus/ bounty/ financial incentive for the VA
file pushers to kill / fast track the deaths of military veterans ?

burrata on June 9, 2014 at 2:51 PM

No one trying to get seen – and has legitimate cause or need or qualifying service to be seen – will go past a year to get an appointment.

I’m also a disabled Veteran and yeah, it’s a good wait to get care. But you do get it. It’s not always the best. Maybe it seldom is. But it’s there.

And this is acceptable?

Barred on June 9, 2014 at 2:56 PM

lineholder on June 9, 2014 at 2:46 PM

This current revelation is from an internal audit, so I would expect a serious external audit to show different results.

A couple years ago some intrepid reporters snuck into some VA hospitals and took pictures of the horrific conditions.

Does anyone else remember?

dogsoldier on June 9, 2014 at 2:57 PM

dogsoldier on June 9, 2014 at 2:57 PM

I do not remember that. If you can find links to images, please post them.

There are already some VA facilities being audited externally by TJC. I haven’t had a chance to read through all the info yet or to find out if the accreditation process for VA facilities in mandatory or voluntary.

The Joint Commission (TJC) has a pretty strong reputation for trustworthiness and reliability in upholding necessary standards. They have a Dashboard displaying quality status of accredited facilities. It may be that there’s some info about VA facilities to be found there.

lineholder on June 9, 2014 at 3:10 PM

Does anyone else remember?

dogsoldier on June 9, 2014 at 2:57 PM

iirc was someplace in new york city area for that.

dmacleo on June 9, 2014 at 3:42 PM

Five Charts to Explain the VA Scandal – th VA sharply increased spending while simultaneously reducing productivity. Oh, while also handing out really handsome bonuses….

ironman on June 9, 2014 at 3:50 PM

This is one vet that will never use VA medical resources.

Bitter Clinger on June 9, 2014 at 1:39 PM

That’s what my father said – until an injury sustained in the Korean War started acting up. He figured the VA would have doctors familiar with dealing with these sorts of injuries – six months later, and he’s still waiting.

Hill60 on June 9, 2014 at 5:16 PM

57,000 waiting for an initial appointment.

I think you need to go to another doctor and get the ball rolling. Maybe nothing is wrong with you.

Fleuries on June 9, 2014 at 5:27 PM

The solution to this problem isn’t more money.

The solution is FIRING administrators!

GarandFan on June 9, 2014 at 5:44 PM

The solution to this problem isn’t more money.

The solution is FIRING administrators!

GarandFan on June 9, 2014 at 5:44 PM

Wrong and right. More money is needed to pay for more actual caregivers – and qualified doctors, and facilities.

Fire workers who will not fire uncaring and lazy workers. While there are plenty of workers who anise their position, even the best workers get worn down by the mountain of vets being served.

And fire the politicians who mealy mouth the real problem and blow hot air just to stir things up. You need committed experienced business people not interested in building personal wealth. You can bet they would take care of the waste and inefficiency.

Period.

Klick the Dick on June 9, 2014 at 7:05 PM

No one trying to get seen – and has legitimate cause or need or qualifying service to be seen – will go past a year to get an appointment.

I’m also a disabled Veteran and yeah, it’s a good wait to get care. But you do get it. It’s not always the best. Maybe it seldom is. But it’s there.

And this is acceptable?

Barred on June 9, 2014 at 2:56 PM

I don’t know – ask your congressman, senator and president. Is it!?!

You want to pay the extra money to pay for real change!?! There’s nothing left available after paying for illegals and welfare slackers – and no job growth because of ‘sharing’ the wealth to pay uninsured care.

GTFU

Klick the Dick on June 9, 2014 at 7:09 PM

Disclaimer: I’m not a spokesman for the VA and these views are my own based on my personal and working experience.

Klick the Dick on June 9, 2014 at 2:28 PM

Why is there a bonus/ bounty/ financial incentive for the VA
file pushers to kill / fast track the deaths of military veterans ?

burrata on June 9, 2014 at 2:51 PM
One: your statement is completely illogical.

Two: I work a Special Ops team that handles priorities like terminal veterans and have been able to get Vet’s their first check in less than 45 days – if the facts supports their claims. You knuckleheads have no idea the complexities of the laws and the process of handling claimed, from obtaining old records, third party records, and correct exams. Often the veteran can be his own worst enemy by continually filling for more stuff and more records when in many cases there is no reality in most of what is claimed. There’s a lack of understanding in the process and what’s available as far as benefits.

Three: I have never heard do such a thing. People do get a bonus based on strict standards and numbers. I’ve never gotten one because I have yet to have the right circumstances for a bonus: I’ve met standards but have had promotions every year, which is an outright disqualifier for bonuses. I don’t believe the Gov should award bonuses for any employee – we are not a business, and we make damn good wages as it is.

Again, talk to your congressman, senator, or dear leader – they right the rules and laws.

Klick the Dick on June 9, 2014 at 7:20 PM

The knuckleheads on here must think wow, someone served in the military, it’s free care for life – EVEN IF THEY HAVE A CAR WRECK TEN YEARS after SERVICE. That’s ludicrious, but it is exactly the type of issues confronting the VA on a daily basis.

how long has it been since you were told to gfy?
asking for a service connected disabled vet..

dmacleo on June 9, 2014 at 2:50 PM

Twice, by disgruntled and frustrated vets,mine out of touch with reality, the other just determined to win whether he ever will or not. I give honest feedback and information that will actually HELP the veteran, and have excellent feedback from those I try to help. You either got it coming or not.

You and your SC ‘friend’ have no idea what I do for others working their claims in as judicious and timely manner that I can.

So IF it’s been a while for you – GFY.

Klick the Dick on June 9, 2014 at 7:25 PM

Klick the Dick on June 9, 2014 at 2:28 PM

At least you are honest and told us you work there. The facts that have been released regarding this scandal tend to disagree with you. They show a systemic dishonorable treatment of veterans. I have not read anyone here post anything like this:

The knuckleheads on here must think wow, someone served in the military, it’s free care for life – EVEN IF THEY HAVE A CAR WRECK TEN YEARS after SERVICE. That’s ludicrious, but it is exactly the type of issues confronting the VA on a daily basis.

Except a couple trolls, who I haven’t seen lately.

dogsoldier on June 9, 2014 at 2:41 PM

I’m no troll, just sick of the faux conservatives and Obama soldiers infecting this site. Allahpundit is one of the worst ones here – and he’s part of their management. So ‘accuse me for crashing your party with a little reality check every now and again….

Klick the Dick on June 9, 2014 at 7:29 PM

Klick the Dick on June 9, 2014 at 2:28 PM

Oh, well, in that case…nothing to see here folks. King Barry is still the bestest firstest white/black Preezy ever!!1!1!!11!!!!

Nutstuyu on June 9, 2014 at 2:34 PM

You could put a gun to my head, my children’s heads, I still wouldn’t ever vote for the guy. Never have, either. The man should be prosecuted for not only failures to execute the duties of a President, but for the IRS actions against opposing party and blatant overriding of immigration laws.

Feel me now?

Klick the Dick on June 9, 2014 at 7:33 PM

An additional 64,000 who enrolled in the VA health care system over the past 10 years have never had appointments.

This is a direct result of Congress and the TAMP Laws passed. Every Vet who was deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq is entitled to 5 years of free Medical Care at the VA. When they out process from the Military a VA Rep of some kind (VA, DAV, AMVETS, VFW, American Legion, etc.) gets these guys and gals to register with the VA. Most never call to get an appointment, but they are registered in the system. To them it is just a checkmark on their out processing sheet.

Johnnyreb on June 9, 2014 at 2:39 PM

You nailed it, Johnnyreb, the numbers are inflated because of that, thanks. But these people prefer hot air to reality, apparently….

Klick the Dick on June 9, 2014 at 7:36 PM

Results for #VA

https://twitter.com/hashtag/VA?src=hash

occupycorruptDC ‏@occupycorruptDC 3m

Waiting to die, #Obama’s #Deathlists. “#VA, more than 57K #Veterans waiting for first visit.” http://m.washingtonpost.com/blogs/federal-eye/wp/2014/06/09/va-says-more-than-57000-patients-waiting-for-first-visit/ … pic.twitter.com/CnsvfnCRvQ

http://m.washingtonpost.com/blogs/federal-eye/wp/2014/06/09/va-says-more-than-57000-patients-waiting-for-first-visit/

canopfor on June 9, 2014 at 8:35 PM

canopfor on June 9, 2014 at 8:49 PM

Retweeted 52 times
Darrell Issa ‏@DarrellIssa 5h

Full #VA medical report out. Eliminating shameful secret lists & long wait times should be a national priority. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/federal-eye/wp/2014/06/09/va-says-more-than-57000-patients-waiting-for-first-visit/?hpid=z1

canopfor on June 9, 2014 at 8:50 PM