Vets kept on a waiting
list for over 30 days
included those with
sufferers of numerous
The American Spark
VA Understates Delays For Veterans' Medical Care, Says Gov't
Cliff Montgomery - September 23rd, 2007
The Department for Veterans Affairs (VA) is denying the findings of an audit by its own inspector general
which declares that one in four injured veterans must wait over 30 days to have a medical appointment, despite
VA policies ensuring timely care.
The VA inspector general's report, released on Sept. 10th, further stated that the VA failed to properly track
these scheduling problems, and added that the Veterans Health Administration had long understated such
issues in its reports to Congress.
"VHA needs to provide more attention to and improve its oversight of the scheduling process," said the review.
"Not following the required scheduling process will increase the risk that veterans will not receive needed
medical care promptly," added the audit.
The VA inspector general looked at 700 scheduled visits for outpatient veterans needing primary or specialty
treatment, at ten department medical centers. The appointments are slated for October.
The audit revealed that 3 out of every 4 appointments were made within 30 days of the date requested by a
patient, as required by VA policy.
But of those vets kept on a waiting list for over 30 days, a full 27 percent had serious service-related
disabilities, including amputations or numerous panic attacks, stated the review.
VA Undersecretary for Health Michael Kussman denied many findings of the inspector general's report,
though he admitted that scheduling problems do exist and must be rectified.
Kussman claimed to cite patient surveys which revealed that around 85 percent of America's veterans get
medical appointments when they're needed.
But as is usually the case with the Bush Administration, the devil is in the definitions--in this case, who gets to
define what appointments are 'really needed'.
"To obtain a more objective, professional analysis of all components of VHA's scheduling process, including
electronic wait lists and waiting times reporting, I plan to obtain the services of a contractor who will thoroughly
assess the factors," wrote Kussman.
But this of course is the neo-conservative sophistical standby of projection--simply denying one's one worst
fault, then projecting that very fault onto your opponent. If anyone is sure to be biased, it is Mr. Kussman, the
man whose handling of wounded veterans' medical appointments during a time of war is being called into
"This is simply not acceptable," retorted Senate Veterans Affairs Chairman Daniel Akaka (D-HI) about the
appointment problems. He added that the inspector general's report made clear that the VA had skewed its
handling of veterans' health care, in an obvious effort to shirk its responsibility.
Given recent reports of the VA's poor treatment for America's heroes in other matters, one can only tilt toward
Senator Akaka's judgment on this issue as well.
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