The Phoenix VA, where dozens of veterans died waiting for care and were placed on secret wait lists, was in total "chaos" with patients needing urgent care and often unable to get it, officials from the VA's Inspector General's Office testified at a Senate hearing Tuesday. What's more, these officials said some 3,526 patients at the Phoenix VA still "may be at risk" for receiving poor urologic care, according to an ongoing investigation by the IG's office.
The problems of very long wait lists for veterans and serious scheduling issues go well beyond Phoenix and exist in many VA facilities, Inspector General Richard Griffin and members of his staff told the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. Nearly 70 VA hospitals or clinics have "knowingly and willingly" altered or manipulated their wait lists and schedules to obscure problems, testified Dr. John D. Daigh Jr., assistant inspector general for health care inspections.
This raises questions. How on earth, for example, could the IG report fail to “conclusively” determine that veterans died from (as the sitting VA secretary once put it), “the absence of timely quality care,” when veterans at the Phoenix facility clearly died and are still at risk? As it turns out, according to CNN’s Drew Griffin (who first blew the lid off this scandal months ago), it has everything to do with the way the report was phrased:
By my count, Griffin lists at least two people, just in the course of this interview, who he’s certain died from negligence. And yet the VA itself can’t put two and two together?
“There is a growing chorus of people who are really questioning the veracity of this report, especially given this confusion over the fact that they list so many who waited for care and died, and yet can’t conclusively say this caused the deaths,” he said.
All in all, the whole thing sounds pretty fishy to me. In fact, it sounds a lot like the federal agency is trying to save its own ass, and failing spectacularly.