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40 Veterans Die Due to VA Hospital’s Elaborate Moneymaking Scheme
We recently blogged about extended delays in health care appointments suffered by veterans across the country who died while waiting for appointments and care; however, the new revelations about a Phoenix VA are perhaps the most disturbing and striking to come to light thus far.
According to CNN, at least 40 US veterans died waiting for appointments at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care system, many of whom were placed on a secret waiting list.
The secret list was part of an elaborate scheme designed by Veterans Affairs managers in Phoenix who were trying to hide the fact that 1,400 to 1,600 sick veterans were forced to wait months to see a doctor, according to a recently retired top VA doctor and several high-level sources.
Internal emails showed that top management at the VA hospital in Arizona knew about the practice and even defended it. Dr. Sam Foote just retired after spending 24 years with the VA system in Phoenix. Foote told CNN that the Phoenix VA works off two lists for patient appointments: There’s an “official” list that’s shared with officials in Washington and shows the VA has been providing timely appointments, which Foote calls a sham list. Then, there is the real list that is hidden from outsiders, where wait times can last more than a year.
“The scheme was deliberately put in place to avoid the VA’s own internal rules,” stated Foote. “They developed the secret waiting list.”
The elaborate scheme in Phoenix involved shredding evidence to hide the long list of veterans waiting for appointments and care. Officials at the VA instructed their staff to not actually make doctor’s appointments for veterans within the computer system.
Foote says when a veteran comes in seeking an appointment, “they enter information into the computer and do a screen capture hard copy printout. Then they do not save what was put into the computer so there’s no record that you were ever here.”
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Did You Know: The VA requires its hospitals to provide care to patients in a timely manner, usually within 14 to 30 days.
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