DETROIT (WWJ/AP) — A federal audit from the Department of Veterans Affairs showed that the average wait for a new patient at five veterans’ medical treatment facilities in Michigan is longest at a center in Detroit.
Data released Monday showed that the average wait at that location is nearly 31 days — more than twice as long as the department’s 14-day goal.
Doug Wells — Supervisor of the Disabled American Veterans Service Office in Detroit — said that the problem is not new.
“If you went back and looked at legislative testimony that DAV and other veteran service organizations provided, you would find that it’s replete over the last couple of decades with testimony related to long wait times for veterans to get health care,” Wells said.
According to the report, more than 57,000 patients are still waiting for initial medical appointments at the VA hospitals and clinics.
“I’ve been doing this for 19 years and I can tell you that we’ve always known that not all VA medical centers — for whatever reason — are created equal,” Wells said.
The audit also shows that over 1,600 Michigan veterans who signed up for VA health care within the past decade have yet to see a doctor.
“If somebody was incentivized by wait times through bonuses to do something nefarious, we need to address that,” Wells said. “If it’s an issue where they’ve got an outdated scheduling system, they need to address that — we just want them to get to the heart of the manor.”
The audit also shows that 1,555 veterans in Michigan have waited more than three months for appointments at the VA centers, while 1,686 who signed up for care within the past decade have yet to see a doctor or other professional.
“Today’s internal audit report is further proof that delayed care for our veterans is a national crisis,” said U.S. Rep. Dan Banishek, a Michigan Republican and member of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs. “Our nation’s heroes should never have to wait over 30 days for an appointment.”
He said the numbers for several of Michigan’s centers were better than national averages but still could be improved.
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