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VA Wait Times: A Long-Standing Problem

Wait times at VA Medical Centers have been an acknowledged problem for a long time.  In 2010, VA imposed a 14-day wait time "goal" tied to bonuses for executives who made the goal. However, that did not seem to solve the underlying problem: the increasing number of veterans using VAMCs (a 200% increase between 2007 and 2013) and the shortage of care providers for that increasing number of veterans.

In 2014, this mismatch between the underlying problem and the supposed solution came to a head when the Phoenix VA famously created a secret list which enabled the public list to meet that 14-day "goal". Veterans were waiting sometimes more than a year on that secret list before they would be placed on the 14-day list to see their doctor.  

One outcome of that scandal (besides the elimination of the 14-day wait time limit) was that the VA Office of the Inspector General began reporting on VA employee shortages. The most recent report indicates that nearly 40% of VA facilities reported shortages. In total, the OIG found that there are 49,000 currently vacant positions throughout the system, with positions in psychiatry having the highest number of shortages.

One reason cited for shortages was that VA medical professionals receive lower pay - in some cases much lower pay - than their private counterparts. Another was high-turnover among executives, who also receive much lower pay than their non-VA counterparts, but - since 2017 - also face the possibility of a sudden firing without appeal, due to the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act. This turnover may have created a feeling among employees of being without reliable leadership.

Whatever the reason, there is a clear shortage of care providers at VA. That problem may also get worse, as VA expects staff to retire at a faster rate than they can be replaced. That can only lead to increased wait times for veterans in need of healthcare. Increased wait times can lead to missed diagnoses or failures to treat veterans in a timely manner. These failures can result in sometimes disastrous outcomes for veterans who are often completely reliant on VA for their care.

Sometimes, delaying a veteran's necessary care can be negligent.  In those cases, veterans can bring a claim against VA and receive compensation. We help veterans bring those claims.  

However, that won't solve the underlying shortage of care providers.


You can read more about VA shortages here:


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