Obama's VA Is Still Falsifying Veteran Wait Times

Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Houston, via Wiki Commons

Back two years ago the Department of Veterans Affairs was under fire for gross mismanagement and incompetence, in other words, in VA-land this was a day ending in “y”. About a third of the VA case load, 307,000 persons, was found to have been deceased but were still carried as awaiting appointments… which they were in a weird sort of way. The bigger scandal though was the way VA medical center personnel were found to be manipulating appointment scheduling to reflect very low wait times when, in fact, patients simply were not being served. In the Phoenix VA system, alone, 35 veterans died while awaiting appointments. This led to the firing of the left’s favorite Army general, Erik Shinseki.

There was a management shakeup and allegedly the problems were fixed. But in the Obama administration, the problems are never fixed, they are just obfuscated and kicked down the road. Or, in this case, they just keep on lying:

After being alerted by a whistleblower that leaders at a VA Medical Center in Houston were telling staff to falsify wait times, the Veteran’s Affairs inspector general took a look.

What the IG found is alarming. More than a year after the national scandal broke that exposed widespread delays and attempts by officials to hide them, this clinic was still masking chronic wait times for veterans.

The report found that the Houston VA Center repeatedly recorded the times the clinic canceled an appointment as a patient cancellation.

The difference is important, because if the patient cancels, the wait time clock starts over. If the clinic cancels, the clock keeps ticking until the vet actually gets in to see a doctor.

According to the IG’s report, of the 373 appointments it examined between June 2014 and June 2015 that the clinic said were patient cancellations, 223 had in fact been canceled by the clinic.

Of those 223 veterans, 42% ended up waiting an average of 81 days before getting a new appointment. But by misreporting the reason for the cancellation, the clinic was able to claim that these veterans had waited just 3 days.

The is the same Veterans Affairs service area that told mourners at funerals they could not say “God bless you.”

This is not really all that hard. Acting with integrity never is. But what has been created in the VA over years and brought to perfection under Obama is a culture where lying is the first choice in how to do business. If veterans die while awaiting appointments or call a suicide hotline and get voicemail, well, who cares?

Rather than using the scandal to change the leadership and culture at a failed agency, all Obama did was sacrifice a couple of managers and continue with business as usual.