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Midwest VA hospitals also had secret waiting lists

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The problems with delayed care and unauthorized wait lists that caused a furor at a Veterans Affairs health care campus in Arizona existed at several facilities in the Midwest, but in much smaller numbers, VA officials said in letters to two U.S. senators.

The Department of Veterans Affairs maintained 10 such "secret waiting lists" of military veterans in need of care at facilities in Kansas, Missouri, Illinois and Indiana, the letters said. They also said at least 96 veterans waited more than 90 days for treatment at seven facilities in those states, including 26 in St. Louis and 19 in Columbia, Missouri.

The letters said that eight of the 10 lists "served to complement authorized lists to more fully support Veteran care and access." But the two other lists, including one at the Wichita facility, "placed Veterans at risk."

The information about conditions in the VA's Heartland Network was sent to U.S. Sens. Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran of Kansas late last week, as the VA released a summary of 216 site-specific audits detailing widespread falsification of waiting list records and unreported treatment delays at VA facilities nationwide. In that release, the VA did not reveal any information about conditions at individual sites.

The VA is conducting a system-wide investigation after it was found that the Phoenix VA Health Care System had about 1,700 veterans in need of care on secret waiting lists, and another that had 1,400 waited over 90 days for primary care appointments. The scandal led to the resignation last week of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki.

Roberts said Tuesday he wanted more answers about conditions at the Robert J. Dole Veterans Administration Medical Center in Wichita and the other facilities. One letter said 21 veterans waited longer for 90 days for care in Wichita; the second put that total at nine. Roberts said he had earlier been assured by VA officials there were no such problems at the hospital.

"My top priority is who is on that secret list and what is the status of their care?" Roberts said.

The letters were sent to the senators by Francisco Vasquez, director of the Dole medical center, and Dr. William P. Patterson, the director of the VA's Heartland Network. The two senators said they forwarded the information in the letters to the VA's Office of Inspector General.

The letters were first reported Monday by The Wichita Eagle. They both said the practices had been "immediately discontinued" and veterans were being contacted to ensure they are receiving the proper level of care, the letter said. It added that investigations into the issues are "ongoing."

Officials from the Wichita VA didn't immediately respond to questions Tuesday from The Associated Press.

The 61 hospitals or clinics in the VA's Heartland Network serve Kansas, Missouri and parts of Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky. The veterans who waited for care longer than 90 days included 14 in Poplar Bluff, Missouri; 12 in Kansas City; eight in a facility serving eastern Kansas and another eight in a facility serving the southern parts of Illinois and Indiana.

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  • It's everyone's fault...
    As a veteran, I notice that people love to wave the flag, but when it comes to paying higher taxes in order to properly care for them as they age, they fight tooth and nail against it. That being said, Republicans have been the party that have opposed increased funding and seek to privatize the VA. Those are facts...
  • hoosier lib
    It has to be Bush's fault right? Awe come on say it….
  • Overfunded?
    You both are delusional...
  • Funding is not the issue
    The VA has seen rapid growth in funding over the years and routinely carries surpluses to the next fiscal year. No, this is about the intrinsic ineptitude of government and cold hearted bureaucrats letting vets wait to die. But, don't let facts get in the way of Obama's apparatchik.. Even a government bureaucracy letting vets die is not enough for them to question their leaders. For the Democrats, winning elections is more important than dead vets.
  • VA overfunded.
    The VA has a huge influx of federal money (your taxes). This money has gone to decorating, salaries, administrative overhead and not to our heroes. A hero is someone to has and will protect you and your freedom. This is repulsive. From the proud daughter of a vet.
  • Jib...
    Yes, I read the bill sponsered by Sen. Bernie Sanders and listended to the debate on C-SPAN (as I am a veteran). President Obama and the Democrat controlled House and Sentate passed the Veterans Education Assistance Improvement Act of 2010 and have requested substantial increases in funding every year. However, do to other legislative priorities in 2009 and 2010 (namely the inherited recession) coupled with the party of "Hell No" controlled the House for the past 4 years, the VA has been stressed.
  • Joe...
    Who is ignoring the facts? The "Global War on Terror" created 1.5 million new vets and the GOP has consistently fillibustered, denied funding increases for and sought to privatize to the VA. Those ARE the facts.
  • Hmm?
    HoosierLib, do you know what was in the VA bill? Keep in mind that throwing money into something does not inherently fix the problem. One point to make - after Bush increased the VA's budget substantially while in office, services did not improve. Obama did nothing, to date, to help either.
  • hoosier lib
    Hoosier lib - why are liberals always making nasty comments. Is it that they can't argue the facts.
  • Right-wing fidiots...it's a resources shortage
    Republicans love to start wars and give speeches about the troops, but they never want to pay the bill for taking care of them once the war is over. Two months ago, Senator Coates voted to fillibuster a VA funding bill that would have provided desperately needed resources to our deserving service members. This a common strategy employed by conservatives called "starve the beast". They deny funding to government programs and then blamce the system when it becomes overloaded or fails. Hypocrisy at its finest...wake-up Hoosiers!
    • Shameful
      Sad and shameful the way our veterans are treated. Obamacare will end up like this too. Evaluate who might die off to save cost. I can see this happening in the future. What happened to the America I once knew? Everyone is too busy thinking of themselves and not others. Politicians are the worst offenders. Everyone falls. The Roman Empire, now the U.S.. The baby boom generation sold us down the river for their own wealth.

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