Posts

Veterans Still On Wait Lists: Military Connection

military connection: va wait

By Debbie Gregory.

It appears that due to soaring demands on the VA system, the number of veterans on wait lists for treatment is up by 50 percent from this time last year.

With that said, the VA healthcare system has handled 2.7 million more appointments than in any previous year, and has increased its capacity by more than 7 million patient visits per year.

While the number of Veterans using VA for care has grown about 2% per year, many locations where space, staffing, productivity, and community care enhancements have been emphasized are growing at multiples of that rate, many of them in double digits.

So what gives? The combination of elderly veterans, Vietnam veterans, and younger veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan all seeking the care they have earned, the VA has been unable to fulfill that obligation. To make matters worse, VA leaders also warned that they are facing a $2.6 billion budget shortfall, which may result in a hiring freeze or furloughs.

Stretching an already bursting budget, the VA gave more than 2.9 million authorizations for veterans to receive care in the private sector between June 1, 2014, and June 1, 2015, a 44 percent increase compared to the same period in previous years.

The health-care system ranks among the most troubled of all government programs. “We are simply asking Congress, once again, for the budget flexibility to use our existing funds to provide Veterans with the care in the community they have already earned,” said VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson.

VA facilities were investigated in 2014 after House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller, a Florida Republican, said as many as 40 veterans died while awaiting care at a Phoenix VA hospital. His committee reported on secret waiting lists and falsified data intended to hide long wait times.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their families. We are the go-to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go-to site.

Veterans Still On Wait Lists: Military Connection: by Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: VA Wait Times Remain: By Debbie Gregory

VA wait timesVeterans will be happy to know that the Department of Veterans Affairs has made significant progress in improving the backlog of patients waiting for care at VA facilities. The VA has cut the number of Veterans who face a wait time of more than four months for an appointment from 120,000 in May, 2014 to 23,000 in October, 2014.

That number is expected to drop even lower with the issuance of VA Choice Cards, a short-term solution that will allow Veterans living more than 40 miles from a VA facility to seek treatment from non-VA facilities. Choice Cards will also temporarily allow Veterans waiting longer than 30 days for treatment at a VA facility to seek private care.

From June through September, 2014, the VA completed 19 million medical appointments in their facilities. This is an increase of 1.2 million compared to  the same time last year.

The VA’s goal is to provide timely, quality healthcare for Veterans and their dependents. That is why the VA continues to implement reforms aimed at significantly improving access to care.

One of the major efforts that the VA is undertaking as part of their long-term reform is to recruit more health care providers. To entice quality doctors, nurses, counselors and staff, VA Secretary Robert McDonald has proposed pay hikes for medical professionals in the VA. This, and other long-term reform plans have yet to have a major impact on wait times. But data shows that dozens of VA facilities still have a quarter or more of all their patients waiting 30 days or more for an appointment.

Some facilities, including ones in Atlanta, Baltimore, Jacksonville and Temple (Texas) are among the 64 that have average wait times of over 60 days for new patients. In total, more than 600,000 Veterans continue to wait 30 days or more for appointments at VA hospitals and clinics.

Many politicians and media sites may try to convince the American public that the VA is either fixed by the 16.3 billion from the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014. But the truth of the matter is that reforming the VA is going to be long and evolving process.

There will be setbacks, and possibly a few failures, but also many improvements for Veterans along the way. The best thing that we, as voting citizens can do, is pressure our lawmakers to make the appropriate decisions when it comes to caring for our Veterans and vote to approve Veteran-friendly measures when they reach the ballot.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: VA Wait Times Remain: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: VA Firing Four Senior Officials: By Debbie Gregory

VA firingsOn October 6, 2014, the Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) Sloan Gibson proposed the removal of the Deputy Chief Procurement Officer (DCPO) for the Veterans Health Administration Procurement & Logistics Office. The VA also announced the firing of three other senior officials.

Deputy Secretary Gibson proposed the removal of  DCPO Susan Taylor following an investigation by the VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) in which allegations of conduct prejudicial to the government were substantiated. According to reports from the OIG, the investigation found that Taylor had inappropriately influenced the awarding of VA contracts to a private company, and interfered with an investigation into the matter.

The other three firings are also a direct result of wrongdoing discovered by the OIG and the Office of Accountability Review. Affecting three directors of VA healthcare facilities, siting significant delays and wait times for treatment, manipulation of appointment data, neglect of duty, inappropriate handling of VA contracts, and misconduct at VA facilities.

Terry Gerigk Wolf, the director of the VA health care systems in Pittsburgh, PA, is in the process of being fired by the VA for conduct “unbecoming a senior executive.” Wolf has been on administrative leave since June, and does have the right to appeal the decision before the firing is complete.

John Goldman, the director of the VA medical center in Dublin, Georgia, is also in the process of being fired after the VA’s inspector general revealed that the hospital’s staff knowingly closed out over 1,500 patient appointments in an attempt to cover up long wait times. The deceit, under Goldman’s watch, was an attempt to meet goals set by the VA. Goldman announced his retirement just four days before his removal was made public.

The VA is also firing the director of the Central Alabama VA Healthcare System, James Talton. The OIG confirmed that a lack of trained appointment schedulers contributed to delays and dysfunction in the hospital’s podiatry clinic. VA audits showed that more than 6,000 patients waited at least 90 days for care at Talton’s facility this year, and that some schedulers were instructed to hide long wait times.

The removal of Taylor, Wolf, Goldman, and Talton underscore the VA’s stated commitment to hold leaders accountable and get Veterans the care they need.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: VA Firing 4 Senior Officials: By Debbie Gregory