SEN­A­TORS WANT AN­SWERS ON VA WAIT TIMES

The Denver Post - - NEWS - — David Migoya, The Den­ver Post

U.S. Sens. Cory Gard­ner and Michael Ben­net wants to know what the U.S. Depart­ment of Vet­er­ans Af­fairs is do­ing to solve the agency’s re­cur­ring prob­lems in Colorado with sched­ul­ing speedy med­i­cal ap­point­ments, ac­cord­ing to let­ters they sent Tues­day.

Sep­a­rate one-page let­ters from the Colorado Repub­li­can and Demo­crat to VA Sec. David Shulkin come five days af­ter The Den­ver Post re­ported that wait­ing times in the Den­ver-based East­ern Colorado Health Care Sys­tem are among the worst na­tion­ally.

“The Vet­er­ans Ac­cess, Choice and Ac­count­abil­ity Act of 2014 was im­ple­mented to fix the shame­ful wait times for vet­er­ans,” Gard­ner wrote. “How­ever, (The Post’s) re­port in­di­cates that the VA has done very lit­tle to im­prove the sit­u­a­tion in Colorado.”

Wrote Ben­net: “This trend is deeply con­cern­ing and un­ac­cept­able for vet­er­ans liv­ing across the Rocky Moun­tain Re­gion.”

VA pa­tient-ac­cess data re­leased on July 1 show that the av­er­age wait for a pri­mary care ap­point­ment at just the Den­ver VA Med­i­cal Cen­ter has grown to more than 18 days, nearly four times the na­tional av­er­age.

Ad­min­is­tra­tors put part of the blame on a short­age of physi­cians and prac­ti­cal nurses, as well as a heavy in­flux of new pa­tients. The new­est vet­er­ans face the long­est waits, data show, with pe­ri­ods av­er­ag­ing 47 days for a visit with a pri­mary care physi­cian in Den­ver and 37 days in Aurora.

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