Healthcare Business News

Number of vets with long waits rises in latest VA update

By Virgil Dickson
Posted: June 19, 2014 - 7:00 pm ET

More than 10% of veterans have to wait 30 days or more for a VA facility appointment, the Veterans Affairs Department said Thursday as it announced revisions to an audit released roughly two weeks ago.

The 10% figure is more than double what the agency estimated June 9 when it said 4% fell into that 30-day wait category.

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The agency has found that 347,432 veterans waited 15 to 30 days for an appointment as of June 1. That figure is up from the previously estimated 220,015 as of May 15. Another 341,207 have been waiting for appointments between 31 to 60 days, up from the previous estimate of 141,921.

Thursday's update said just more than 43,000 veterans had asked for appointments over the past decade but never received them, compared to the earlier estimate of more than 63,000. The estimate for veterans who had waited as long as three months before a doctor saw them dropped from more than 57,000 to just more than 56,000.

The VA has now contacted approximately 70,000 veterans across the country to get them off of waitlists and into clinics for appointments, acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson said during a news conference Wednesday at a D.C.-based VA facility. The number of appointments made has increased by almost 200,000 from May 15 to June 1. The new report is the second in a planned series of bimonthly updates.

While the audit looks at all appointments in the VA's scheduling system, as of May 15 and now as of June 1, at least one VA official has said that is not a complete look at the wait-time issue because it considers only future visits, not past appointments, and also does not include veterans who had gotten appointments quickly.

Follow Virgil Dickson on Twitter: @MHvdickson

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