A startling audit has revealed that more than 57,000 men and women who have worn a uniform in defense of their country have been waiting for up to three months for a medical appointment. The study comes in the shadow of a national uproar of reports that some VA patients had died while awaiting appointments and the revelation of cover-ups at a VA medical facility in Phoenix, Ariz.
The federal audit, which included the Boise VA medical facility, examined 143 VA hospitals.
The audit found that the Boise VA Medical Center was among the six worst VA hospitals in the nation for scheduling appointments within 30 days. The national average was 34 percent.
The audit was released Monday by the Department of Veterans Affairs, as the U.S. Senate takes up bipartisan legislation to revamp the system.
“If the Senate is able to come together on a comprehensive piece of legislation, it will be a major victory for us,” said Louis Celli, the top lobbyist for the American Legion, the largest fraternal organization for U.S. veterans. “We’re confident the House will work with them to get a good piece of legislation passed.”
The good news for regional veterans is that the Boise VA had no such "tampering" or cover-up of falsified appointment dates in order to meet on-time performance goals. The Boise VA, however, did show some understaffing in physical therapy and ophthalmology.
Overall, Boise was 10th best in the nation for scheduling new patients for primary care visits, with an average wait time of 23 days. Compare that to Hawaii's average wait time of 144 days.
Boise ranked 29th in the nation for new patients to schedule mental health appointments and 52nd for new patients to schedule special care visits.
Investigators visited Boise to review records at the local VA facility on May 13.