Sixth VA office probing "inappropriate scheduling"

The scandal at the Veterans Administration expanded to a sixth office, this time in Durham, North Carolina. Two employees got suspended during a pre-audit check of wait-time records that went all the way back to 2009. The audits have been ordered by VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, who got served with a Congressional subpoena last week to testify in the scandal that may have cost the lives of dozens of vets in Phoenix:

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The Veterans Health Administration has placed two Durham VA Medical Center employees on administrative leave after learning the employees may have “engaged in inappropriate scheduling practices.”

In preparation for an audit, VHA learned on Monday that some employees at the Durham VA “may have engaged in inappropriate scheduling practices at some point between 2009 and 2012.”

The audit was scheduled as part of a national audit of patient access and scheduling as directed by Department of Veterans Affairs Sec. Eric Shinseki.

Shinseki is expected to testify on Thursday on wait-time fraud, and still refuses to step down. This report comes from KGNS in Laredo, Texas before North Carolina got added to the list of states where wait-list irregularities have taken place:

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki is scheduled to testify Tuesday about the state of the Department of Veterans Affairs, with Senate lawmakers poised to question him about VA health clinics allegedly covering up treatment delays.

The hearing, which takes place with the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee starting at 10 a.m., comes just eight days after the American Legion called for Shinseki and two of his top executives to resign over the latest controversy and a string of other troubles, including the agency’s longstanding backlog of disability claims and preventable deaths at its medical centers.

Shinseki has been VA Secretary for over five years. Either his administration was not competent enough to spot this fraud, or it’s complicit in it. When a competent executive imposes a metric for service — and a 14-day wait time was an ambitious and deliberate metric — the competent executive puts safeguards in place to ensure that underlings don’t try to squirrel around them. Instead of exercising competent follow-up, the VA instead at the very least allowed for wait-list fraud to flourish across the country, and not just in one particular office.

It’s time for Shinseki to step down, and for President Obama to find a more competent executive to clean up the mess.

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