Feds look into claim of unofficial Veterans Affairs wait lists
Government investigators said they are looking into allegations that Department of Veterans Affairs employees in Colorado kept unofficial lists of veterans waiting for health care that could conceal how long it takes to get an appointment, possibly broadening a nationwide scandal.
The VA’s internal watchdog announced an audit in a letter Wednesday’s to Republican Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Cory Gardner of Colorado. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the letter.
Johnson and Gardner asked for the inquiry after a whistleblower told them the lists were allegedly used at the Denver VA Medical Center and VA health clinics in Colorado Springs and the Denver suburb of Golden.
The inquiry by the VA’s inspector general also will look into the whistleblower’s allegations that records at the Colorado Springs clinic were falsified after a veteran took his own life while awaiting treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. Unofficial or secret lists have been used at VA facilities across the country to hide lengthy delays in care for veterans. Forty veterans died while waiting for appointments at a Phoenix VA hospital. The scandal led Congress to fund the Veterans Choice program, which allows veterans to seek private care at government expense if they have waited 30 days or longer. It also led to the ouster of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki. —AP
AURORA, COLORADO: In this April 24, 2015 file photo, Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., speaks to members of the media following a US Senate delegation tour of the over-budget Veterans Administration hospital construction site. —AP