VA Audit: Thousands of Arizona Veterans Waiting for Care

Categories: News
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
The Phoenix VA hospital.

The Department of Veterans Affairs released the results of its internal audit, which didn't reveal a surprise -- wait times are long, and many employees around the country claim there's gaming of the scheduling system.

Nationwide, there are more than 100,000 veterans facing long wait times, including more than 4,300 around Arizona.

See also:
-VA: 35 Phoenix-Area Veterans Have Died While Waiting for Care

Between the Phoenix VA, as well as the VA health care systems in northern Arizona and southern Arizona, there are nearly 3,000 veterans on the electronic waiting list.

According to the VA, these are the "number of all new patients (those who have not been seen before in the specific clinic in the previous 24 months) for whom appointments cannot be scheduled in 90 days or less."

Then another 1,300-plus are entered in the New Enrollee Appointment Request system, which is the "number of newly enrolled Veteran that have requested an appointment during the enrollment process during the past 10 years for whom an appointment has not yet been scheduled."

Based on the report from the VA inspector general's office on the problems in Phoenix, the number is likely even higher than that. The VA data lists about 1,100 vets not even on the waiting list in Phoenix, but the inspector general found more than that:
  • New Enrollee Appointment Request (NEAR) tracking report at Phoenix HCS listed about 1,100 newly enrolled veterans who indicated they wanted a primary care appointment but as of April 28, 2014, had not received one and were not on the EWL.
  • Screenshot Paper Printouts represented about 400 newly enrolled veterans who called the Phoenix HCS Helpline and requested a primary care appointment. As of April 2014, the facility had yet to schedule these veterans their primary care appointment or add them to the EWL.
  • "Schedule an Appointment Consult" represented about 200 veterans referred to primary care, but the consult was still pending. These 200 veterans were seen in a non-primary care clinic, such as mental health or the emergency department, but were then referred to primary care. As of April 2014, the facility had yet to schedule these veterans their primary care appointment or add them to the EWL.
"The length of time these 1,700 veterans wait for appointments prior to being scheduled or added to the EWL will never be captured in any VA wait time data because Phoenix HCS staff had not yet scheduled their appointment or added them to the EWL," the inspector general's report said. "Until that happens, the reported wait time for these veterans has not started. Most importantly, these veterans were and continue to be at risk of being lost or forgotten in Phoenix HCS' convoluted scheduling practices. As a result, these veterans may never obtain their requested or required primary care appointment.

The VA's nationwide audit doesn't come to a surprising conclusion -- the VA's resources can't meet the demand for services. Throw in a very complicated scheduling process, and here we are.

Through nationwide surveys of thousands of VA employees, there were employees in every single facility that said the reported data were incorrect to some degree. However, 13 percent of the scheduling staff interviewed said they were specifically told by supervisors to enter an incorrect date while scheduling, and another 8 percent acknowledged a separate, unofficial list in their scheduling practices.

Along with this report, the VA issued a press release explaining the steps it's taking to rectify all these problems, including contacting the veterans on waiting lists and making them appointments, as well as removing the schedulers' incentives for posting quicker wait times.

Click here to see all the information released by the department.

Got a tip? Send it to: Matthew Hendley.

Follow Valley Fever on Twitter at @ValleyFeverPHX.
Follow Matthew Hendley at @MatthewHendley.

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My Voice Nation Help

It's their own fault for serving a country that doesn't serve its people. Did OUR government "promise" they would honor their promises? Kind of reminds me of those poor Head Start kids... No child left behind..... And people ask me why I don't go to the VA??? Where's John McCain?

Mike Woodling
Mike Woodling

Nor does it include the thousands more who mysteriously never even made it ONTO the list. Bunch of ass jackets.

Charles Forker
Charles Forker

guess its not just Phoenix, oh by the way , these are the same folks who just took over YOUR healthcare :(

Cris Cross
Cris Cross

How would they ever get it right with all those records on paper that no one wants to look at?

Panayiota Bertzikis
Panayiota Bertzikis

that does not include veterans that just gave up waiting for the VA to get their shit together.

La Messa Qvo
La Messa Qvo

That's not bad considered that the population being screwed is 4 times that in AZ

Tyburn Gallows
Tyburn Gallows

Add this to the long list of reasons not to join the military.

Diane Parker
Diane Parker

Why are we only hearing about Arizona? This is going on everywhere.

jonnyquest topcommenter

"The United States has always had a pretty sacred rule and that is: We don't leave our men or women in uniform behind," Barack Obama. Yet another lie.

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