VA bosses in 7 states falsified vets’ wait times for care

Daily News Article - April 11, 2016


1. The first paragraph of a news article should answer the questions who, what, where and when. List the who, what, where and when of this news item. (NOTE: The remainder of a news article provides details on the why and/or how.)

2. When did the scandal with VA wait-times for veterans’ medical care come to light?

3. a) Define manipulation as used in the article.
b) How did manipulation by schedulers affect how wait times were viewed?

4. a) What is the FOIA?
b) The revelation about ongoing fraud at many VA medical facilities was only revealed after an FOIA request from USA Today. How long ago were half of the inspector general’s 70 investigations completed?

5. a) What is the role of the inspector general?
b) What did the investigations launched by the inspector general into more than 100 VA facilities discover?

6. This latest VA fraud came to light two years ago.
a) Congress approves budgets for all departments of the federal government, including Veterans Affairs. What responsibility do you think Congress had between then and now ensure this fraud against our military veterans was completely fixed? Explain your answer.
b) The Secretary of Veterans Affairs is the head of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The Secretary is a member of the President’s Cabinet. What responsibility do you think President Obama had to ensure this fraud against our military veterans was eliminated? Explain your answer.

7. Consider the following:

In the newly released reports, investigators found schedulers were using the same strategies. Most commonly, schedulers would start the wait clock on the day of the appointment they were booking rather than when the veteran wanted to be seen. The system then showed there was no wait time even if the veteran had to wait weeks or months for an appointment.

The agency said it has retrained thousands of schedulers and is updating software to make it easier for them to book appointments properly. A pilot program at 10 facilities allows veterans to book their own appointments, and the VA expects to roll that out nationwide, according to David Shulkin, a physician who took over as undersecretary for health at the VA in June.

Shulkin told USA TODAY he also initiated two massive, same-day efforts to try to provide care sooner for more than 100,000 veterans, and he said the agency also has increased capacity to get wait times down.

“We’ve expanded appointments, we have added evening hours and weekend hours, we’ve added 3 million square feet of space, we’ve hired 14,000 new providers,” he said.

But VA whistle-blowers say schedulers still are manipulating wait times.

a) How/who/in what way do you think the VA should be required to prove that they have completely ended the fraud at VA medical facilities? (direct reports/accounting to President Obama, to Congress, in press conferences with the media, open access to all records to independent investigators…?) Explain your answer.

b) Which presidential candidate do you think would be able to clean up the fraud at the VA (and other federal agencies)? Explain your answer.