Tuesday, May 6, 2014
While in Arizona over the weekend, I had time (while hiding from the first days of this summer's 100+ degree days) to catch up on the latest news about allegations involving the Veterans Administration Health Care System in Phoenix. As reported in the Arizona Republic, key concerns focus on allegations that:
- Veterans were forced to wait unreasonable lengths of times for needed health care appointments (including allegations of waits of over 200 days);
- "Forty or more" veterans died while awaiting care;
- Records were falsified or improperly maintained regarding wait times, with allegations of a "secret list" showing more accurate information;
- Records have been or will be destroyed.
The U.S. House Committee on Veterans' Affairs has reportedly issued orders to the VA to preserve documents. The key allegations of failure to provide necessary care come from two physicians, including one who worked for the VA for 24 years before retiring in December.
I'm not seeing concrete details about the wait times or deaths, although at least one death by suicide of a 20-year veteran is described by a family member in a letter to the editor of the Arizona Republic. It seems unlikely that wait-time delays would be a facility-specific practice and would seem more likely to be a larger system issue. Some allege the problems can be tied to specific administrators. Pinning down such practices is difficult at best, but is there more bad news ahead?