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Jordan Candler / June 23, 2016

A Texas-Sized VA Scandal

A VA facility in Houston is the latest to join the ever-growing scandal.

The increasingly frivolous Department of Veterans Affairs is closer than ever to becoming perennially incapable of getting its ducks in a row. The latest example of negligence comes from an “anonymous allegation” submitted to the VA Office of Inspector General concerning the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center, located in Houston, Texas. In a June 20 report, the IG probe exposed more of the same old story: “We substantiated that two previous scheduling supervisors and a current director of two CBOCs [Community Based Outpatient Clinics] instructed staff to incorrectly record cancellations as canceled by the patient [emphasis added.]”

The report says that “223 appointments” were “incorrectly recorded as patient cancellations during the July 2014 through June 2015 time frame.” Additionally, “Of the 223 appointment cancellations, staff rescheduled 94 appointments (42 percent) beyond 30 days. For these 94 appointments, veterans encountered an average 81-day wait, which was 78 days longer than shown in the electronic scheduling system. We found that wait times were understated about 66 days for 50 appointments (22 percent) when they were initially scheduled.”

What was it Barack Obama once said? “We’re not going to stop working to make sure that they get the care, the benefits and the opportunities that they’ve earned and they deserve. I said we wouldn’t tolerate misconduct, and we will not. I said that we have to do better, and we will.” That was in May 2014 — more than two years ago. What’s his excuse now?

Add to this the possibility that disgraced former VA Director Sharon Helman could be rehired, and the situation becomes downright surreal. But even if she doesn’t get her job back, why should we expect things to get better when the current leadership compares the VA experience to an amusement park ride?

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