News / USA

Audit Shows 100,000 US Veterans Face Long Waits for Healthcare

The Richard L. Roudebush Veterans Administration Medical Center in Indianapolis, Indiana, June 9, 2014.
The Richard L. Roudebush Veterans Administration Medical Center in Indianapolis, Indiana, June 9, 2014.
Reuters
More than 100,000 veterans are experiencing waits of more than 90 days for appointments at medical centers run by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, according to an internal audit released by the troubled agency on Monday.
 
The survey revealed that a scandal over cover-ups of long wait times at VA clinics, during which some veterans are alleged to have died, was broader and deeper than initially thought, prompting a new round of recriminations from lawmakers and veterans groups.
 
The agency said staff at 76 percent of facilities surveyed reported that they were instructed to misrepresent appointment data at least once.
 
The VA said it found that in mid-May, 57,436 veterans were waiting for appointments that could not be scheduled within 90 days, while about 43,000 had appointments more than 90 days in the future.
 
Over the past 10 years, 63,869 new enrollees in the VA healthcare system had requested appointments that were never scheduled, VA said.
 
The agency said it was working to contact all of those people to try to expedite their care. With more than 1,700 clinics, hospitals and other facilities serving 8.9 million veterans, the VA operates the largest U.S. healthcare system.
 
Lawmakers from both parties expressed outrage at the findings, which deepen the political problems the controversy presents to President Barack Obama and fellow Democrats as they try to keep control of the U.S. Senate in November elections.
 
“The results of the VA's report are appalling and disturbing,” said Senator Kay Hagan, a Democrat who is in a tight re-election contest in North Carolina, a state that is home to many military retirees.
 
Republican House Speaker John Boehner called the findings “a national disgrace” and said the House of Representatives would pass a measure this week to allow veterans to seek private care at VA expense if they were forced to wait more than 30 days for an appointment.
 
Emergency Measures
 
The VA said it was abandoning a two-week scheduling goal for appointments after finding it was “not attainable,” and it suspended bonus awards for the 2014 fiscal year ending Sept. 30.
 
The agency also said it would take emergency steps to rush medical care to veterans, including hiring temporary staff, keeping clinics open later, sending more patients to private care providers and bringing in mobile medical units to some locations. It will freeze hiring at headquarters offices.
 
Last week, VA acting Secretary Sloan Gibson said that at least 18 Arizona veterans had died while waiting for appointments.
 
An official with the Government Accountability Office, a  watchdog agency, said on Monday that a GAO review had identified one veteran who died earlier this year before obtaining needed care.
 
The patient needed endovascular surgery to repair two aneurysms that were diagnosed in September 2013, GAO's  healthcare director, Debra Draper, said in testimony to the House Veterans Affairs Committee.
 
The surgery was set for November, then canceled due to VA staffing issues, she said. The VA then referred the patient to a local hospital, but there was another delay when the patient's information was lost by the “non-VA provider,” Draper said.
 
The patient died of cardiac disease and hypertension the day before the surgery was to take place on Feb. 14, she said.

You May Like

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost-Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More