12 damaging facts you don’t know about the VA scandal

Communications • June 30, 2014

VA Dept

For generations, we’ve made a commitment to veterans –  those who bravely served to protect our way of life.

That’s why the scandal at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs is an outrage to every American. We know our veterans deserve better because that’s what we promised them.

Although President Obama asked for, and received, the resignation of VA Secretary Shinseki, that’s not enough.

A 90-page report released by Senator Tom Coburn makes it clear – the problems at the VA are far deeper than anyone could have thought.

Here are the 12 most damaging facts from the report:

1. In the past decade, nearly 1,000 veterans died as a result of subpar treatment. Grieving families of these victims have been paid $845 million over that time.

2. At least 82 veterans have died or were seriously injured because they waited too long for colonoscopies or endoscopies.

3. In the past three years, primary care appointments have increased by 50 percent, but the number of primary care doctors at the VA has only increased by 9 percent.

4. 57,000 new patients have waited at least 90 days for their first appointment at VA hospitals.

5. Veterans living in rural areas must travel an average of 63 miles to receive care.

6. Some VA staff confessed to the Government Accountability Office that they changed medical appointment dates to fit within the agency’s wait time performance goal of 14 days.

7. At the end of 2013, the VA had $34 billion leftover that they did not use to improve healthcare for veterans.

8. The VA spent $5.1 million on new software that was never used.

9. In 2010, the VA spent $80 million on travel-related expenses for its employees. One employee billed the VA $130,000 to cover his commute, hotel, and meal charges so he did not have to relocate.

10. Out of the 500 highest-paid US government officials, 483 work for the VA, including the top ten.

11. The VA has a pattern of giving bonuses to unworthy employees: 

  • $8,216 to a radiologist who was unable to read mammogram and other x-ray images correctly;
  • $11,819 to a surgeon under suspension for leaving surgery early;
  • and $7,663 to a physician who practiced with an expired license for three months.

12. Nearly $1 billion was spent on building a state-of-the-art facility in Nevada but there aren’t enough doctors or nurses to treat patients there.

Our veterans put their lives at risk so that we can be free. Now, their lives are at risk because the country they served is failing to provide quality – even adequate – health care.

House Republicans have already acted to hold the VA accountable and to allow veterans to seek quality care outside the VA system. Our efforts will not end until these heroes receives the quality, timely care they’ve earned and deserve.

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