Audit: Indiana Veterans await first VA visit

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – A new report puts specific numbers on just how backlogged care is for Indianapolis Veterans. The Department of Veterans Affairs released an audit Monday.

More than 57,000 veterans across the country are waiting on their first appointment to the VA. 3,400 are here in Indianapolis. While the numbers aren’t bad by comparison to the rest of the country, Roudebush VA Medical center is flagged for further review.

The 54-page report gives detailed information on the backlogs and wait times for VA medical patients across the country. None in Indiana are among the top ten worst in wait times.

The VA says all patients must be scheduled within 14 days. So for Roudebush, of the 55,441 appointments scheduled, six percent or 3,400 patients have waited over 30 days. 92 patients waited between 90-120 days and 80 patients have waited over 120 days.

Roudebush was audited in May. A spokeswoman tells I-Team 8 they just saw the report for the first time Monday.

Julie Webb says “we are surprised we are on the list for a follow up because when the audit came through there was no indication of concerns or areas for follow-up”.

The two areas highlighted are those waiting for appointments for allergies and colonoscopies. 180 are waiting for colonoscopies. All are being called and offered non VA care from a private doctor.

Overall the audit of 731 facilities points to a systemic problem within the VA medical centers across the country. The audit said a 14-day target for wait times was “not attainable” given growing demand for services and poor planning. It pointed to “an organizational leadership failure”. The audit also finds 13 percent of VA schedulers nationwide were ordered to falsify appointment dates to meet the on-time performance goals.

The audit was triggered by what was found in Phoenix which included secret waiting times to make appointments appear faster and 40 veteran deaths while waiting.

I-Team 8 questioned Roudebush about that here and was told “We know of no secret waiting lists”. They say they have told employees to come forward if they have any concerns about secret waiting lists. Roudebush is continuing to make calls to all patients who have waited longer than 30 days.

Rep. Jackie Walorski (IN-02) made the following statement about the Department of Veterans Affairs audit.

“Today’s audit from the VA confirms what we’ve known all along: the VA falsified wait times to cover-up their internal mess which led to the complete breakdown of our nation’s largest hospital system. I’m also saddened to learn the Indianapolis VA facility in my home state has been flagged for further review. Tonight, my colleagues and I will hear from representatives from the Government Accountability Office, VA inspector general and VA who will testify on data manipulation. It is my hope they can answer questions to uncover the truth of how this problem began. But, I fully expect more information to come out when the Inspector General completes its investigation.  This is not a partisan issue.  We need to keep working together to get to the bottom of this. And I think the FBI needs to be involved in investigating criminal activity.”

To see the full VA audit click here.

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