The number of veterans waiting more than a month for care just passed the 500,000 mark, according to new data on patient wait times released by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Patient data, current up through May 15, shows that the number of veterans waiting more than 30 days jumped by 10,000 in just two weeks, to exactly 505,880.
And over the course of a month, the number of veterans waiting more than 30 days surged by 23,000.
The VA also provided data on vets who have had to wait for 1-2 months, and the numbers aren’t stellar. There are 297,013 vets who have waited that time period, a figure which increased by 5,000. For vets in the 3-4 month category, the number jumped by 2,000 to 46,672.
Although the new wait time data is not encouraging, VA Secretary Robert McDonald recently downplayed the importance of that metric, instead preferring to cite other apparently superior figures like overall veteran satisfaction with the experience. To justify his prioritization of the “satisfaction” metric, McDonald said that Disneyland does the exact same thing and doesn’t place a whole lot of importance on wait times for rides as such, but rather how much its patrons enjoy their experience at the amusement park as a whole. Citing Disneyland plays to McDonald’s philosophy of bringing corporate management techniques to the VA from his private sector experience as CEO of Procter & Gamble.
“When you got to Disney, do they measure the number of hours you wait in line? Or what’s important? What’s important is, what’s your satisfaction with the experience?” McDonald said, according to The Washington Examiner. “And what I would like to move to, eventually, is that kind of measure.”
His remarks, delivered at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast, weren’t taken terribly well by members of Congress, veterans’ advocates and of course veterans themselves.
Some legislators even called for McDonald to resign over the comments.
Average number of days to wait for a primary care appointment saw an increase to an average of 6.89 days. For days to get specialty care, the average bumped up to 10.15.
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