VA Inspector General sitting on wait-time reports

posted at 4:01 pm on February 25, 2016 by John Sexton

The Inspector General for the Department of Veterans Affairs is sitting on reports that document the extent of wait-time problems at 73 VA facilities around the country. USA Today reports all of the reports were completed months ago but still have not been made available to the public or to Congress:

In Delaware, the inspector general found cases of improper scheduling at the Wilmington VA that led to disciplinary action months ago. But Democratic Rep. John Carney said he’s still trying to figure out exactly what went on at the facility.

“I’m outraged that we still haven’t received the inspector general’s report,” he told USA TODAY last week. “The investigation began almost two years ago and we can’t address the problems when we don’t know the full picture.

The interim IG for the VA Department stepped down last year after USA Today uncovered evidence he was hiding the results of investigations:

USA TODAY had found the office had withheld from the public the results of 140 health-care investigations, including cases in which veterans were harmed or died.

In one case, the inspector general failed to release a report about potentially dangerous prescriptions being doled out at a VA hospital in Wisconsin in 2014. VA officials didn’t fix the problem, and five months after the report was completed, veteran Marine Jason Simcakoski, 35, died from a fatal mixture of drugs prescribed at the hospital. The VA didn’t correct the prescribing practices until his death became public last year.

President Obama signed a law in December that requires the IG to “release investigative reports within three days of completion.” But that law only applies to reports that make recommendations and the VA reports apparently don’t make any, meaning they are exempt.

This is how President Obama manages to have, in some people’s minds, a scandal-free administration. It’s not that there haven’t been any scandals, it’s just that evidence of the scandals is suppressed for months and sometimes years until no one even remembers there was an ongoing investigation.

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