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Report: 177K vets waiting 2+ months for appointments

Following the recent VA scandal involving excessive waiting periods, KSAT's Tim Gerber sat down with a disabled Desert Storm vet who said he has experienced similar problems.
Following the recent VA scandal involving excessive waiting periods, KSAT's Tim Gerber sat down with a disabled Desert Storm vet who said he has experienced similar problems.

WASHINGTON – Earlier this week, an updated audit revealed about 177,000 veterans were still waiting at least two months for an appointment at VA medical centers.

Gibson said some of the delays on the audit update appeared worse than previously reported because hospital administrators were beginning to use proper scheduling procedures that accurately reflected the number of veterans waiting.

For example, the update showed more than 43,000 veterans waiting longer than 120 days for an appointment, compared to 13,000 listed earlier this month.

In San Antonio, 5,016 patients waited more than a month to be seen, that's up from 842. Some 3,715 San Antonio patients waited 31-60 days for appointments, 1,130 waited 61-90 days, 165 waited three to four months and six patients had to wait longer than four months.

According to Gibson, more appointments have been added, but some VA hospitals lack the capacity to see patients quickly, which also contributed to a spike in the figures.

The VA has reached out to 70,000 veterans waiting for appointments in order to get them into clinics, he said.

At this point, the VA's Office of Inspector General is investigating 69 facilities for allegations that administrators altered appointment data or used secret waiting lists to make patient wait times appear shorter in order to earn financial bonuses.

Farrisee said Friday that schedulers sought to meet their performance goal -- and therefore qualify for bonuses -- by showing veterans got appointments within 14 days.

An internal audit by the VA called that 14-day goal implemented under Shinseki's leadership unattainable and reported 13% of schedulers were instructed to manipulate data in some form.

Gibson has eliminated the 14-day target for the Veterans Health Administration, which has more than 1,700 facilities that serve almost 9 million veterans each year.