Inspector General confirms delays in medical care at VA facility

The Office of Inspector General has issued an interim report of the ongoing review at the Phoenix Health Care System (HCS). While the review is still underway, OIG has substantiated that significant delays in access to care negatively impacted the quality care at this medical facility.

The Phoenix facility is the one accused of having a “secret waiting list.” In our May 29 issue, we published an interview with Rep. Jeff Miller on the issue (Read here).

The OIG review identified multiple types of scheduling practices that are not in compliance with VHA policy. “Since the multiple lists we found were something other than the official EWL, these additional lists may be the basis for allegations of creating “secret” wait lists,” said the investigators.

Four recommendations were made to the VA Secretary:

1. Take immediate action to review and provide appropriate health care to the 1,700 veterans we identified as not being on any existing wait list.

2. Review of all existing wait lists at the Phoenix Health Care System to identify veterans who may be at greatest risk because of a delay in the delivery of health care.

3. Initiate a nationwide review of veterans on wait lists to ensure that veterans are seen in an appropriate time, given their clinical condition.

4. Direct the Health Eligibility Center to run a nationwide New Enrollee Appointment Request report by facility of all newly enrolled veterans and direct facility leadership to ensure all veterans have received appropriate care or are shown on the facility’s electronic waiting list.

Congressman Miller is asking for the resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki and has issued this statement about the interim report:

“Today the inspector general confirmed beyond a shadow of a doubt what was becoming more obvious by the day: wait time schemes and data manipulation are systemic throughout VA and are putting veterans at risk in Phoenix and across the country. Right now, there are two things that need to happen. Attorney General Eric Holder should launch a criminal investigation into VA’s widespread scheduling corruption and VA Secretary Eric Shinseki should resign immediately.

Shinseki is a good man who has served his country honorably, but he has failed to get VA’s health care system in order despite repeated and frequent warnings from Congress, the Government Accountability Office and the IG. What’s worse, to this day, Shinseki – in both word and deed – appears completely oblivious to the severity of the health care challenges facing the department. VA needs a leader who will take swift and decisive action to discipline employees responsible for mismanagement, negligence and corruption that harms veterans while taking bold steps to replace the department’s culture of complacency with a climate of accountability. Sec. Shinseki has proven time and again he is not that leader. That’s why it’s time for him to go.