INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
Indiana U.S. Sens. Dan Coats and Joe Donnelly are demanding a meeting with
the nation’s new Veterans Affairs chief to assess wait times at the state’s
VA facilities amid reports of secret waiting lists at other facilities that
caused some veterans to die before receiving care.
planned to submit a letter Thursday to Acting Secretary Sloan Gibson
requesting a review of Indiana facilities after a May 20 request to former
Secretary Eric Shinseki went unanswered. Shinseki resigned last week.
"On behalf of
nearly 500,000 Hoosier veterans, we ask that you immediately verify and
report to us on the status of wait times and the use of unauthorized
scheduling practices throughout Indiana,” the senators wrote in the letter,
which was obtained by The Associated Press on Wednesday.
investigation into the troubled Phoenix VA Health Care System found that
about 1,700 veterans in need of care were “at risk of being lost or
forgotten” after being kept off an electronic waiting list. The
investigation also found widespread problems throughout the health care
system, which provides medical care to about 6.5 million veterans annually.
A document released
Tuesday by Kansas Sens. Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran showed that at least 108
veterans waited more than 90 days for appointments with a primary care
doctor at nine hospitals and 51 outpatient clinics in parts of six states,
Star reported this week that new patients at the Veterans Affairs hospital
in Indianapolis had to wait an average of 42 days for an appointment. That
is triple the VA’s 14-day goal and ranked the Roudebush Veterans Affairs
Medical Center 13th worst of the 140 VA medical centers across the country
in terms of wait times.
“Forty-two days for
an appointment is far too long. It could mean the difference between life
and death,” Dan Dellinger, national commander of the Indianapolis-based
American Legion, told the newspaper.
Wait times at
Indiana’s other VA center were also below target.
Coats and Donnelly
say the wait times “break a sacred trust with our veterans” to provide
timely access to health care.