Congressmen Doyle and Murphy Demand Answers and Treatment for Veterans on Pittsburgh VA Wait List
May 29, 2014
Washington, DC – U.S. Representatives Mike Doyle (PA-14) and Tim Murphy (PA-18) released the following statement after receiving telephone calls from members of the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System leadership team on the status of wait times for doctor appointments at the Pittsburgh VA. A later call revealed the existence of a primary care waiting list containing the names of nearly 700 veterans, some of whom had been awaiting for appointments since 2012. The list, known as the “New Enrollee Appointment Request” or NEAR list, tracks veterans who requested health care appointments when they applied for enrollment in the VA health care system.
“Forcing some Pittsburgh-area veterans to wait for more than a year to get VA health care is completely unacceptable. We expect VAPHS leadership to schedule medical appointments within the next 48 hours to eliminate the backlog and provide us with a detailed follow-up report that identifies with specificity the outcomes for each individual veteran.
“Care delayed is care denied, and no veteran should be forced to await treatment because of mismanagement, or worse. If any effort was undertaken to conceal the true details of how long veterans have to wait for care, then those responsible should be referred to appropriate legal authorities for further review.
“VAPHS leadership also told us that VA Headquarters in Washington had sent a team to Pittsburgh in the last several weeks to audit the facility – and that the team had found no evidence that there were two sets of books in Pittsburgh, one with the real wait times and one that made the wait times look a lot better. Given the well-founded lack of trust veterans have in VA right now, we urge an independent evaluation of wait times in Pittsburgh and await the results of an ongoing review by the VA’s Office of Inspector General.
“We have also learned that higher-ups within the Department of Veterans Affairs may have instructed officials at the Pittsburgh VA not to inform members of Congress about the existence of a wait list.
“It’s our expectation that any attempt to uncover the truth will be fully supported by VISN4 and the VA headquarters. Anything less than full co-operation is completely unacceptable and should be punished to the fullest extent. We want answers – and we want all veterans to have the best possible treatment they have earned through their service to our country.”