Watchdog: Accountability

CNN: 40 vets die waiting for care from Veterans Affairs in Phoenix

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More than three dozen veterans died waiting for treatment from the Department of Veterans Affairs' Phoenix facilities, CNN reported Wednesday evening.

Citing sources including a recently retired doctor from the Phoenix VA and internal emails, the network said many of the 40-plus vets had been placed on a "secret waiting list" for appointments. The list was an attempt by VA bosses to cover up the long wait times for treatment, CNN said.

The family of Thomas Breen told the network that the Navy vet died of bladder cancer last year while waiting for an appointment with the Phoenix VA.

From the CNN story by Scott Bronstein and Drew Griffin:

CNN has obtained e-mails from July 2013 showing that top management, including Phoenix VA Director Sharon Helman, was well-aware about the actual wait times, knew about the electronic off-the-books list and even defended its use to her staff.

In one internal Phoenix VA e-mail dated July 3, 2013, one staffer raised concerns about the secret electronic list and raised alarms that Phoenix VA officials were praising its use.

"I have to say, I think it's unfair to call any of this a success when Veterans are waiting 6 weeks on an electronic waiting list before they're called to schedule their first PCP (primary care physician) appointment," the e-mail states. "Sure, when their appointment is created, it can be 14 days out, but we're making them wait 6-20 weeks to create that appointment."

The Washington Examiner has also written extensively about the delays in veterans' medical care. Some recent stories:

Veteran tells Congress he was handed a 'death sentence' by botched care at Veterans Affairs hospital

Delayed tests, inadequate care linked to 23 cancer patient deaths at Veterans Affairs hospitals

Congressional leaders call for ouster of failing Veterans Affairs executives, but not of Secretary Eric Shinseki

Shaming tight-lipped bureaucrats on Veterans Affairs issues could improve transparency, open government advocates say

Veterans Affairs administrator who 'resigned' over patient deaths still on hospital payroll

And see our week-long series from last year, "Making America's Heroes Wait," at this link.

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