“More than 600,000 veterans — 10% of all the Veterans Affairs patients — continue to wait a month or more for appointments at VA hospitals and clinics, according to data obtained by USA TODAY.
The VA has made some progress in dealing with the backlog of cases that forced former secretary Eric Shinseki to retire early this year. For instance, the VA substantially cut the overall number of worst-case scenarios for veterans — those who had waited more than four months for an appointment. That figure dropped from 120,000 in May to 23,000 in October. Much of that improvement occurred because patients received care from private providers.
Since May, the VA has been reduced the number of veterans waiting longest for care — its top priority — by 57%, according to James Hutton, a VA spokesman. From June to September, the VA completed 19 million appointments, an increase of 1.2 million compared with the same time last year.
The new data show that dozens of hospitals and clinics leave a quarter or more of all their patients waiting 30 days or more for an appointment.
Some facilities still have extremely long wait times for basic care, including 64 that have average wait times over 60 days for new patients seeking primary care. They include major facilities, such as hospitals in Baltimore; Jacksonville, Fla.; Temple, Texas, and Atlanta. All have at least 30,000 pending appointments.?
In Jacksonville, the average new patient is left waiting 77 days, a fact that previously obscured in the VA’s data because it was averaged into the much-better performance of the nearby Gainesville hospital. Jacksonville only sees two-thirds of its patients within 30 days, the worst rate of any major facility in the VA system.”
WEBSITE: hsacoalition.org, aba.com
TWITTER: @HSACoalition, @ABABankers
Kevin McKechnie, is the Executive Director of the Health Savings Account (HSA) Council and the American Bankers Associations’ Office of Insurance Advocacy. He represents the HSA Council and ABA before Congress.
Date Recorded: 12 3 2014
Podcast of the interview Download: