Report: Colorado Veterans Face Denial of Care, Excessive Wait Times

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Jonah Bennett Contributor
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The watchdog at the Department of Veterans Affairs reported Thursday that the Colorado Springs, Colorado, VA is incompetent when it comes to providing timely care to veterans, and failed to support those same veterans when they tried to access timely care outside the VA system.

The inspector general determined from a sample of 450 consults and appointments that 64 percent of veterans did not receive timely care, meaning they waited more than 30 days for appointments. Others had waited almost eight months for care. Those veterans were spread out over the departments of audiology, mental health, neurology and more, which means that the problem was not limited to one specific area.

Staff tried to circumvent the problem of long wait times by manipulating patient records for 59 veterans, in order to make it seem that they had only waited 30 days or less. “For 59 of the 288 veterans, scheduling staff used incorrect dates that made it appear the appointment wait time was less than 30 days,” the IG reported.

It is unclear whether staff purposefully manipulated the records, or were unintentionally sloppy.

Rather than helping them get care outside the VA through the Choice Program, staff simply did not add 56 veterans to the Veterans Choice List. The other 173 veterans were eventually added, but not at all quickly.

Concerned Veterans for America, a national veterans’ advocacy group, expressed disappointment at the lack of efficient and available care at the Colorado Springs VA, and pointed to the IG’s report as yet another example of reality running up against bold proclamations from the VA of fast access.

“This report just highlights that the VA’s continued public statements about ensuring veterans have timely access to care should be taken with a large grain of salt,” John Cooper, press secretary at Concerned Veterans for America, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “There is simply no reason we should keep learning that veterans are facing significant delays in receiving care or that appointment wait times are, at best, being recorded incorrectly and in such a way that they hide the VA’s inability to offer timely care.”

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