Press Release: Senator Akaka concerned by apparent lack of commitment to accurate assessment
May 19, 2008, Washington, DC – Responding to a report by the Department of Veterans Affairs Inspector General (IG) on VA patients’ waiting times today, U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI), Chairman of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, expressed concern that VA continues to report inaccurate data on wait times for health care appointments. The IG audit, which focused one VA health care network, VISN 3, found that VA under-reported patient wait times, and that staff there failed to follow recommendations made by the IG in previous reports on the issue. Some VISN 3 employees reported to the IG that their superiors directed them to violate existing guidelines and directives, and deliberately manipulate data.
“VA’s neglect of patient wait times is a breach of the faith that servicemembers put in the system. This audit indicates that the Veterans Health Administration is not committed to reducing unacceptable wait times. I am concerned that this problem exists throughout the VA system,” said Akaka.
The IG report, released today, is titled “Audit of Alleged Manipulation of Waiting Times in Veterans Integrated Service Network 3.” For the third time in three years, the IG found that VA is not producing accurate wait time records nor following proper scheduling procedures. As a result, wait times are dramatically under-reported. Further IG comments note that VA as a whole still has not implemented the majority of recommendations made in the July 2005 and September 2007 wait time reports, which contained similar conclusions.
Akaka continued, “This deception must end. Veterans are not receiving the services they need, and inaccurate data prevents VA from fixing the problems. This failure is inexcusable, especially given the unprecedented funding increases VA has received in recent years.”