Blumenthal: VA waiting times going in ‘wrong direction’

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said Monday that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is “going in exactly the wrong direction” because new data show healthcare wait times are rising.

“I would appreciate an explanation of this across-the-board, unacceptable rise,” Blumenthal wrote in a letter to acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson. “Simply put, the VA seems to be going in exactly the wrong direction in seeking to address dangerous and deadly health care delays.”

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Blumenthal’s letter came after a report showed that wait times at VA medical facilities in Connecticut have tripled.

“Such statistics raise serious questions,” Blumenthal wrote. “Why are the wait times increasing? Is there a lack of administrative resources, a shortage of doctors or other critical health care professionals? Are the numbers themselves valid and consistently reported?”

Gibson took over the VA after Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned because of scandals within the department. Some facilities falsified information in order to reduce the appearance of long wait times for medical treatment.

Lawmakers are working out the details on a bicameral bill that would give the VA secretary more authority to fire those responsible for the backlog and allow some veterans to receive care at non-VA facilities. 

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