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Wednesday
Mar112015

The VA Scandal May Be Much Worse

From USA Today:

The Department of Veterans Affairs’ [Office of Inspector General] has not publicly released the findings of 140 health care investigations since 2006, potentially leaving dangerous problems to fester without proper oversight, a USA TODAY analysis of VA documents found.

The Inspector General has declined to comment on what is in the reports.  That said,

It is impossible to know how many of the investigations uncovered serious problems without seeing the reports, but all concerned VA medical care provided to veterans or complaints of clinical misconduct.

Thus, it is possible that nothing damaging is in the reports, which means that this is a “nothing burger.”  However, 140 reports would be a very big nothing burger.

For those who need a refresher on the VA scandal, here is my summary from 2014:

Employees at the VA were manipulating data on wait times for care so that the VA appeared better than it was at meeting its standard of a maximum 14-day wait for treatment. Many whistleblowers at the VA were harassed and, in a few cases, even fired. The result was that over 57,000 veterans waited at least three months for a doctor’s appointment while nearly 64,000 veterans were never added to any waiting list. We may never know exactly how many of these veterans suffered in pain or saw their conditions worsen while they waited for treatment. We do know the deaths of at least 23 veterans are attributable to delays. 

From 2000 to 2011, there were at least 26 reports—six from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and 20 from the VA Office of Inspector General (OIG)—that examined wait times within the VA system.  That should have been a warning sign that something was seriously wrong, but, as I explained in my policy analysis, the reports were ignored because intellectuals had convinced policymakers that the VA was a wonderful health care system.

Wait times are far from the only problem with the VA that has been made public, as even a cursory look at the Veterans Affairs OIG websites shows. But to now learn that there may be many more problems that have not been made public is a bitter pill to swallow.

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