WASHINGTON — An internal audit of Department of Veterans Affairs scheduling problems released on Monday discovered some 100,000 veterans in the U.S. face long waits for appointments and Sen. Dick Durbin D-Ill. said, “This news is troubling.
“It comes on the heels of news last week that at least eight veterans had to wait more than 90-days for an appointment at the Marion VA Medical Center. That is unacceptable,” said Durbin. “I have asked Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson to brief me this week on the audit of Illinois facilities. I want to know what staff was instructed to do when it came to scheduling appointments, what bonuses were paid to senior officials and what pressure to create secret waitlists existed. Most importantly, Illinoisans need to know what the VA is doing to make certain that every veteran waiting for an appointment is seen on a timely basis.”
BACKGROUND, FROM DURBIN’S OFFICE Earlier today, Durbin joined 19 Senators in sending a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder urging the Department of Justice to hold accountable anyone responsible for abuses of these waitlists. A copy of that letter can be accessed HERE
The Senate is set to consider legislation this week that will bring accountability to senior staff at VA medical centers who unethically – and perhaps illegally – tinkered with waitlists at their facilities. It also incorporates a proposal to give veterans the opportunity to see a non-VA provider if they cannot see an agency physician in 14 days or if they live more than 40 miles from a VA facility.