WASHINGTON — An internal report was released on Monday, detailing how about 100,000 veterans are having to endure long waits for health care appointments at Veterans Affairs facilities, with half of them waiting longer than 90 days.
Reuters reported that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs released results of their internal audit, which saw misreporting wait times was a widespread problem. Out of the 731 facilities surveyed, the audit found 76% had waiting time problems.
The survey, which took place between May 12 and June 3, 57,436 new veteran patients waited at least 90 days or more for an appointment, while 63,869 patients over the past decade never had their requested appointment scheduled.
Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson, who replaced the embattled Eric Shinseki when he resigned, said, “This data shows the extent of the systemic problems we face, problems that demand immediate actions.”
However, the report did not link the long wait times to deaths of veterans and avoided passing on blame. When the VA scandal broke in Phoenix, Arizona, it was because whistleblowers said about 40 veterans died without receiving the health care they needed and waited a long time for. At the Phoenix facilities, Gibson said that out of the 1,700 veterans put on secret waiting lists, 18 veterans died.
According to Reuters, the VA said that it would undergo emergency measures to rush medical care to veterans, hire emergency temporary staff at facilities with the worst backlogs and wait times, and even introducing mobile medical units to several of the troubled locations.
Yet the question remains, why was this ignored for so long?