VA Resets Patient Waiting List Policies

Ross D. Franklin/AP

According to reports, the Veterans Affairs Department announced it will return to 30-day waiting lists before outsourcing appointments for veterans to non-VA facilities. 

This change comes in the midst of a furor about delays in treatment for veterans. The scandal has continued to make headlines throughout this month and even prompted a congressional hearing. Inciting more anger than the delay was the divulging of secret patient waiting lists at a number of VA hospitals.

Accompanying those reports have been accusations that as many as 40 veterans have died while awaiting care. A number of politicians and a few veterans organizations have called for Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki's resignation. 

More than a lowering of standards, the resetting of a 30-day wait time could be seen as a return to realistic expectations. As recently as last week, it was reported that Robert Petzel, the recently fired undersecretary for health at the Veterans Affairs Department, said that the goal of cutting wait times to 14 days from 30 days, which was the standard set in 1995, was "unrealistic." The actual average wait time was said to be about 21 days. 

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