SENATORS WANT ANSWERS ON VA WAIT TIMES
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.