New Report Cites Long Wait Times For VA Primary Care

Some newly enrolled veterans seeking a primary care appointment at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) wait more than 90 days before they see a provider, and the agency’s way of calculating wait times understates them, according to a new report by a government watchdog office. “This most recent work on veterans’ access to primary care expands further the litany of VA health care deficiencies and weaknesses that we have identified over the years,” Debra Draper, director of the Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) health-care team, said in testimony to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. “As of April 1, 2016, there were about 90 GAO recommendations regarding veterans’ health care awaiting action by VHA … (including) more than a dozen recommendations to address weaknesses in the provision and oversight of veterans’ access to timely primary and specialty care, including mental health care. “Until VHA can make meaningful progress in addressing these and other recommendations,” she added, “the quality and safety of health care for our nation’s veterans is at risk.”

 

The new GAO report looked at wait times for newly enrolled veterans seeking primary care appointments at six VA medical centers around the country. Among a random sample of 180 of those veterans, 60 who requested care had not been seen at all by primary care providers, in some cases because the VA never contacted them or because they were left off an eligibility list in error.

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VA Wait Times For Health Care Improve

Ninety-six percent of veterans awaiting appointments at VA medical centers in Connecticut are being seen within 30 days, new data show, with Connecticut performing slightly better than the national average. At Connecticut Veterans Administration medical centers, there were 51,281 scheduled appointments on Oct. 1, according to new data (based on a one-day snapshot) released by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Of those, 96 percent – or 49,063 appointments – were scheduled within 30 days of when patients wanted to be seen or medically needed to be seen. There were 2,218 veterans waiting more than 30 days for their health care appointment.

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