Watchdog: Accountability

Midwest Veterans Affairs hospitals also have secret waiting lists, agency letter reveals

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Politics,Watchdog,Veterans Affairs,Health Care,Kelly Cohen,Accountability,Veterans,Pat Roberts,Jerry Moran

More Veterans Affairs hospitals have been using hidden waiting lists to cover up backlogs in patient care, the Associated Press reports.

The Department of Veterans affairs maintained 10 such lists at facilities in Kansas, Missouri, Illinois and Indiana, according to letters sent to two U.S. senators.

The news comes in the wake of a systemwide VA investigation after it was found that the Phoenix VA system had about 1,700 veterans in need of care on "secret waiting lists," and another that had 1,400 waited more than three months for primary care appointments, the Associated Press reported.

The scandal led to the resignation last week of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki.

At least 96 veterans waited more than 90 days for treatment at seven facilities in those four states, including 26 in St. Louis and 19 in Columbia, Mo., the AP reported.

The letters said eight of the 10 lists "served to complement authorized lists to more fully support Veteran care and access," but the two other lists "placed Veterans at risk."

The information about the conditions was sent to U.S. Sens. Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran of Kansas late last week, according to the AP.

Francisco Vasquez, director of Wichita's Robert J. Dole Veterans Administration Medical Center, and Dr. William P. Patterson, the director of the VA's Heartland Network, sent the letters to the two senators, whom said they forwarded them to the VA's inspector general, the AP reported.

Roberts, the Kansas Republican, demanded more answers about conditions at Dole and the other facilities. One letter said 21 veterans waited longer for 90 days for care in Wichita, while the second put that total at nine.

"My top priority is who is on that secret list and what is the status of their care?" Roberts said.

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Kelly Cohen

Staff Writer
The Washington Examiner