The Veterans Affairs Department delivered an interim report to President Barack Obama on Friday. It found the VA’s medical system crippled by a “corrosive culture” that included mismanagement and lack of accountability.
White House Deputy Chief of Staff Rob Nabors released a summary of the findings that included the infamous scheduling of appointments for patients. The 14-day standard set for scheduling appointments is “arbitrary, ill-defined and misunderstood” probably causing many VA hospitals to falsify records.
Nabors also noted that “significant and chronic systemic failures” occurred within the Veterans Health Administration that need to be reconstructed. The system oversees more than 1,700 facilities delivering health care to military veterans.
In conclusion, the biggest problem is the need to hire more doctors and other health care professionals, the report cited. Meanwhile, Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee issued this statement:
“It appears the White House has finally come to terms with the serious and systemic VA health care problems we’ve been investigating and documenting for years. While it’s extremely unfortunate President Obama did not heed our warnings about the very real and very deadly problems within the VA health care system sooner, we stand ready to work with stakeholders inside and outside the administration to institute VA reforms that will improve services to America’s veterans while bringing real accountability and efficiency to the department.”
Nabors was asked by the president to remain in his temporary role assisting the VA. Former VA secretary Eric Shinseki resigned May 30 amidst massive criticism of his handling of the VA. Before Shinseki’s resignation, an earlier review found scheduling staff were instructed to manipulate appointments; covering up veteran’s waiting times at 64 percent of VA facilities.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, the cost to fix all that ails the VA would cost as much as $35 billion over 10 years in a Senate proposal while the House version would double VA health spending and cost as much as $44 billion over five years. The House-Senate conference committee will resume talks next month when Congress returns to Washington.
The department operates the U.S.’s largest integrated health system.
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