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VA Official Says There Are No Secret Wait Lists
Defence One National Journal ^ | May 29 2014 | Sarah Mimms

Posted on 05/29/2014 10:29:59 AM PDT by PoloSec

During a testy and at times emotional four-hour hearing late Wednesday night, an official with the Department of Veterans Affairs told the House Veterans Affairs Committee that reports of secret waiting lists at the Phoenix Health Care System are false.

“I was not able to identify any lists that I thought were secret,” the VA’s Assistant Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Clinical Operations, Dr. Thomas Lynch, told members Wednesday.

Author

Sarah Mimms is a staff correspondent for National Journal Daily, covering Congress. Previously at National Journal, she served as senior analyst for the Hotline, where she covered federal and gubernatorial campaigns in the South. Full Bio

Lynch went on to explain that the lists were actually produced automatically by the VA’s data system when an appointment was cancelled so that it could be rescheduled. Once a new appointment was made, the lists were destroyed, Lynch said, because they contained “patient-identifying information,” including Social Security numbers. Several members asked Lynch for the names of those responsible for detroying the documents, but he said he did not know.

In all of those cases, Lynch told reporters after the hearing, the appointments were cancelled and rescheduled due to either clerical issues or the staff’s determination that they could see the veteran on an earlier date.

A preliminary report issued by the VA’s Inspector General earlier on Wednesday found evidence of inappropriate scheduling tactics at the Pheonix VA that resulted long delays and placed some of the blame on the fact that the department ties low wait times to staffers’ bonuses. Several media outlets have reported that those long lines for service resulted in at least 40 deaths, though the IG has not yet confirmed those figures.

Lynch agreed that the association between low wait times and bonus checks had lead to problems at facilities across the country, but added that intentions at the Phoenix facility were good. “I think that the management in Phoenix were making an honest effort to try to improve veterans’ access. I think they were trying to improve the timeliness in which care was being provided,” Lynch said.

Lynch testified that he has been to the Phoenix facility three times in the last two months, where he met with officials, including the director and several schedulers. But he added that he did not meet with any of the whistleblowers in the case, a statement that caused an uproar among members on both sides of the aisle on the House committee.

Lynch also said that he brought his wife with him on the first trip so that the two could celebrate Easter weekend together, which Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., called inappropriate. “I would just ask you, Doctor, to tell me how you could have possibly thought it was appropriate to turn such a critical, serious mission into a personal holiday?” she asked.

House Veterans Affairs Committee chairman Jeff Miller, R-Calif., said after the hearing that he isn’t buying Lynch’s argument. “There are secret lists. There are multiple lists at some facilities that we have found. … So this whole idea that this is a misunderstanding is a red herring. To try to claim that what they were doing was trying to provide quicker health care for veterans, let the facts speak for themselves. Veterans were not getting health care in a timely fashion,” Miller said.

Lynch did say that he agrees with the Inspector General’s initial report, which was released earlier Wednesday and showed that the Phoenix Health Care System grossly over-reported how quickly veterans were receiving care. That investigation found that, on average, a subsample of veterans waited 115 days for an initial appointment, while the Phoenix department reported that the average was 24 days. The VA recommends to its healthcare facilities that veterans wait no more than 14 days for an appointment.

The same report showed that 1,700 veterans at the Phoenix facility were still on a waiting list. Lynch told the committee Wednesday that each of those veterans would receive a call by Friday to schedule an appointment, or would be referred to an outside medical facility (where care would be paid for by the department) if their local VA system lacked room to see them. The department is currently conducting an inventory of waitlists nationwide and will make similar outreach efforts in the next few weeks, he added.

The hearing capped off a difficult day for relations between the Department of Veterans Affairs and Capitol Hill, as a waterfall of members called for department Secretary Eric Shinseki’s resignation, including a growing number of Democrats.

And members of the House Veterans Affairs Committee were no friendlier. Democrats and Republicans on the committee expressed increasing frustration that their subpoena for documents related to the waitlist issues has not been fulfilled, adding a level of strain to the proceedings. Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., even went so far as to add the names of all three department officials who testified Wednesday to the list of those who should step down from their jobs.

Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., got particularly colorful, telling Lynch: “What I don’t understand is, as a veteran, as a doctor, as a practitioner, how you can stand in a mirror and look at yourself in a mirror and shave in the morning and then not throw up knowing that you’ve got people out there … [who] can’t get in.”

The officials vowed Wednesday to make an audit available to members of Congress concerning facilities located in their home districts in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, the Office of the Inspector General is expected to issue a full report on issues at the Department of Veterans Affairs sometime in June.


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: phoenix; thomaslynch; vascandals; vawaitlistscandal

1 posted on 05/29/2014 10:29:59 AM PDT by PoloSec
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To: PoloSec

Secret meaning....only a couple folks knew about “the list”.


2 posted on 05/29/2014 10:32:00 AM PDT by Sacajaweau
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To: PoloSec
It depends on what the meaning of the word 'secret' is.
3 posted on 05/29/2014 10:33:44 AM PDT by Servant of the Cross (the Truth will set you free)
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To: PoloSec

Triple Amputee Veteran Brian Kolfage Blasts Obama in Powerful Memorial Day Letter: You were Raised to Hate America

Read more at http://freedomoutpost.com/2014/05/triple-amputee-veteran-brian-kolfage-blasts-obama-powerful-memorial-day-letter-raised-hate-america/#E9sZwfT54WzmUjCS.99


4 posted on 05/29/2014 10:33:48 AM PDT by KeyLargo
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To: PoloSec

Then we want all waiting lists published daily on the internet!!


5 posted on 05/29/2014 10:35:34 AM PDT by SADMILLIE
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To: PoloSec


6 posted on 05/29/2014 10:35:46 AM PDT by QT3.14
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To: PoloSec
Identifying such a list in fact makes it not so. In that point I suppose he is correct.

That is if you are in a Yossarian state of mind!

7 posted on 05/29/2014 10:37:05 AM PDT by blackdog (There is no such thing as healing, only a balance between destructive and constructive forces.)
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To: PoloSec

I’ve never waited at the New Haven, VA.


8 posted on 05/29/2014 10:37:18 AM PDT by brivette
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To: blackdog

that is the catch, if you will.


9 posted on 05/29/2014 10:39:19 AM PDT by brivette
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To: PoloSec

All socialist systems have preferred lists.


10 posted on 05/29/2014 10:40:15 AM PDT by Jonty30 (What Islam and secularism have in common is that they are both death cults)
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To: PoloSec

“I was not able to identify any lists that I thought were secret,”

That’s BS for, “maybe secret to some, maybe should have been secret but I didn’t think they were secret now.”


11 posted on 05/29/2014 10:41:03 AM PDT by Sequoyah101
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To: PoloSec

“I was not able to identify any lists that I thought were secret,”

Translated from `transparent’ Obamanese to plain English:

I may have seen some lists but was unable to ID them.
Maybe someone else could ID them, but I don’t think so.
I don’t think they were secret, but all of this is just my opinion and my answers are subject to change if I’m sworn or taking the 5th amendment in which case I won’t make the same mistake Lerner made by making a self-serving statement first, I’ll just dummy-up.
And that’s the truth, honest native American!


12 posted on 05/29/2014 10:44:02 AM PDT by tumblindice (America's founding fathers: all armed conservatives)
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To: PoloSec
“I was not able to identify any lists that I thought were secret..."

Weasel words.

Where's Lanny Davis these days? Sounds like something he would have advised Hillary to say.

13 posted on 05/29/2014 10:44:51 AM PDT by Steely Tom (How do you feel about robbing Peter's robot?)
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To: PoloSec

It wasn’t a secret...several people knew...doesn’t make it right.


14 posted on 05/29/2014 10:45:02 AM PDT by Sacajaweau
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To: PoloSec

I watched the whole sickening hearing....

Ms. Morany (sp?) Was especially appalling in her lack of any cogent response to even basic questions...


15 posted on 05/29/2014 10:46:23 AM PDT by Popman ("Resistance to Tyrants is Obedience to God" - Thomas Jefferson)
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To: PoloSec
“I was not able to identify any lists that I thought were secret,”

Almost as good as 'I have no memory of a secret list.'

16 posted on 05/29/2014 10:47:42 AM PDT by TexasCajun
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To: brivette

“I’ve never waited at the New Haven, VA.”

I guess most vets would not want to live in CT today. They’ve all moved to the South and West to get away from your Marxist State Government!


17 posted on 05/29/2014 10:48:24 AM PDT by vette6387
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To: PoloSec
“I was not able to identify any lists that I thought were secret,” is really not the same sentence in the English language as "there weren't any", is it?
18 posted on 05/29/2014 10:50:25 AM PDT by Billthedrill
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To: brivette

I never waited in Baltimore either. I don’t think their was a secret list at all. However, I do believe that some may have waited for an appointment that should have taken less time to get.


19 posted on 05/29/2014 11:00:20 AM PDT by napscoordinator (Governor Scott Walker 2016 for the future of the country!)
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To: vette6387

Not much difference between Connecticut and North Carolina really. Both states began the destruction of the United States in 2008. Truly that is the truth.


20 posted on 05/29/2014 11:01:47 AM PDT by napscoordinator (Governor Scott Walker 2016 for the future of the country!)
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To: PoloSec
Lynch agreed that the association between low wait times and bonus checks had lead to problems at facilities across the country, but added that intentions at the Phoenix facility were good. “I think that the management in Phoenix were making an honest effort to try to improve veterans’ access. I think they were trying to improve the timeliness in which care was being provided,” Lynch said.

No they weren't...they were trying to protect their bonuses and awards, and the hell with the veterans.

21 posted on 05/29/2014 11:05:29 AM PDT by Timber Rattler (Just say NO! to RINOS and the GOP-E)
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To: Billthedrill

It’s similar to Obama’s arrogant: “I misspoke, or you misunderstood, or you’re just plain stupid” excuse when caught in a bald lie. The excuse he’s worn out from using so much, like the little boy crying `Wolf’.
But here, if they can’t get their MSM to bite the Obamanites leave open the old `This miserable VA underling (close to retirement) is resigning (harrumph harrumph), so what more do you want from us for cryin’ out loud?’ gambit and sacrifice a pawn, or even bishop or knight to save their—clearing throat—Queen.


22 posted on 05/29/2014 11:06:10 AM PDT by tumblindice (America's founding fathers: all armed conservatives)
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To: PoloSec

There are no secret wait lists. Oh, those? Those are secret death lists.


23 posted on 05/29/2014 11:07:20 AM PDT by DPMD
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To: PoloSec

I watched the whole sickening hearing....

Ms. Morany (sp?) Was especially appalling in her lack of any cogent response to even basic questions...


24 posted on 05/29/2014 11:20:19 AM PDT by Popman ("Resistance to Tyrants is Obedience to God" - Thomas Jefferson)
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To: PoloSec

It wasn’t secret, it was just hidden from most people and a fake list substituted.


25 posted on 05/29/2014 11:20:42 AM PDT by Blood of Tyrants (Haven't you lost enough freedoms? Support an end to the WOD now.)
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To: napscoordinator

“Not much difference between Connecticut and North Carolina really. Both states began the destruction of the United States in 2008. Truly that is the truth.”

Have a relative who was a prof at Central Conn U. who retired. They moved to Santa Fe, NM, which is just like Hartford with rattlesnakes. The felt “right at home “ politically speaking. In reality, no state is immune from Marxism.


26 posted on 05/29/2014 11:22:55 AM PDT by vette6387
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To: QT3.14

BAD Career Move. Career Ender.


27 posted on 05/29/2014 11:46:46 AM PDT by Texas Fossil (Texas is not where you were born, but a Free State of Heart, Mind & Attitude!)
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To: vette6387

I assume you’ve owned two vette’s: 1963 , 1987?


28 posted on 05/29/2014 11:58:10 AM PDT by brivette
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To: Sacajaweau
I don't begrudge a guy for taking his wife with him on a business trip, as long as he paid her expenses and actually worked on the trip. I took my family with me on a government business trip, but I worked full days on the purpose of the trip while my wife and kids terrorized Disneyland. Unfortunately, what seems commonplace in that level of government is scheduling business trips to coincide with a vacation to save on hotel, airfare, and food.

on the factual sides of his assertions about there not being a secret list, he admitted they were falsifying wait times. The reported wait times were a condition of bonus criteria.

First off, bickering about the modis operandi doesn't change the fact that a crimes were committed. The first crime was not providing care to these eligible vets. The second was fraud against the government by falsely reporting numbers to exploit bonus criteria.

Second, this shows why government jobs shouldn't have bonuses. That is a huge vulnerability for corruption. This isn't to say that cooking the books isn't part of the private sector, but in government these people are stealing the People's money.

This person that testified should be summarily fired. He is either covering up or is completely stupid. Neither of those qualities deserves retention.

29 posted on 05/29/2014 12:07:51 PM PDT by USNBandit (sarcasm engaged at all times)
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To: PoloSec

But they do get bonus money for denying medical help!


30 posted on 05/29/2014 3:54:28 PM PDT by minnesota_bound
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To: PoloSec

There’s not a smidgen of a wait list.


31 posted on 05/29/2014 4:54:39 PM PDT by Arthur McGowan
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