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Veterans Die While Waiting on “Secret List” to See Doctor

Are you frustrated and discouraged by your interactions with the Veterans Administration (VA)? You are not alone. Not only do veterans applying for service-connected disability benefits wait sometimes up to 5 years for a decision, but they also face significant wait times just to see a medical provider.

The Phoenix VA office is reported to be keeping a secret waiting list to hide the true extent of the health care delays.  It is said that approximately 1,600 veterans had been placed on this “secret” list and then were forced to wait several months to see a doctor. At least 40 of these veterans passed away while waiting on this list and not receiving the care they desperately needed. What seems even more disturbing is that top management knew about the existence of this secret list and even supported it.

The VA requires hospitals to provide health care in a timely manner, typically within 14 to 30 days. In Phoenix, the VA hospital came up with two different lists in order to appear to abide by the VA’s “timely manner” requirements. Congress has now ordered all records from the Phoenix VA hospital. But how many other hospitals are following the same practices? What is the extent of the wait times around the United States, and what is being done to help shorten these extensive wait times?

In South Carolina at the Dorn> VA hospital, many veterans are dying because of cancers that aren’t caught in time and could have been caught by routine tests. Veterans are forced to wait months for these tests, and by the time they actually get in to see a doctor, it is too late. In Augusta, GA three veterans died as a result of this delayed care. At this facility, the waitlist is approximately 4,500 patients. Significant delays have been reported at several other VA hospitals, including Atlanta, North Texas, and Jackson, Mississippi.

Something needs to be done to change this system. Our veterans have risked their lives to defend and protect us. They deserve the very best care upon their return from service. What they do not deserve is to have to wait months or even years to receive care, and they especially do not deserve to pass away, in some cases, before their appointment even comes up.

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