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Published by the the Washington Times this morning is a report the Obama administration received notice that the VA was cooking the books about waiting times during its 2008 transition to the White House, which raises the question why wasn’t this fixed six years ago when he came into office? It also raises the question why didn’t President Bush do anything about it when he was president?
Veterans Affairs officials warned the
Obama-Biden transition team in the weeks after the 2008 presidential election
that the department shouldn’t trust the wait times that its facilities were

“This is not only a data integrity issue in
which [Veterans Health Administration] reports unreliable performance data; it
affects quality of care by delaying — and potentially denying — deserving
veterans timely care,” the officials wrote.

The briefing materials, obtained by The
Washington Times through the Freedom of Information Act, make clear that the
problems existed well before Mr. Obama took office, dating back at least to the
Bush administration. But the materials raise questions about what actions the
department took since 2009 to remedy the problems.
Apparently reports of inaccurate reporting began to be reported in 2005, three years before Obama took office.
In particular, the 2008 transition report
referred to a VA inspector general recommendation to test the accuracy of
reported waiting times.
Such tests, the report noted, could prompt
action if results reveal “questionable differences” between the dates shown in
medical records and dates in the Veterans Health Administration’s scheduling
system. It’s unclear whether that recommendation was adopted because VA
officials have not responded to request for comment.

(…)  “Audits
of outpatient scheduling and patient waiting times completed since 2005 have
identified noncompliance with the policies and procedures for scheduling,
inaccurate reporting of patient waiting times and errors in [electronic waiting
lists],” the briefing papers state.
The briefing/transition reports are prepared by the career federal employees rather than political appointees. The VA report provided to the incoming Obama administration notes that
little was done to address the problems surrounding scheduling and wait time
accuracy during the George W. Bush administration.

“Although VHA has recognized the need to improve
scheduling practices and the accuracy of wait times data, no meaningful action
has been taken to achieve this goal today,” officials wrote.
In fact, officials added, nine recommendations
arising from inspector general audits from 2005 to 2007 were not implemented by
2008 when officials prepared the report for the incoming administration.

(…)The briefing materials do not reveal any
concerns about outright fraud in manipulating waiting times, but they make
repeated references in summarizing past audits and reviews about data accuracy.

 This report shows that false reporting of wait times is a systemic problem within the VA, and that Bush had three years to address it, Obama had six years and no one did a damned thing about it.
We send our heroes overseas to protect our arses, and the very least we can do is give them the medical attention they need, it’s what we promised, its what our last two presidents haven’t delivered.

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