June 16, 2014

USA: Obama Administration Knew About VA’s Secret Wait Lists For Years; US Special Counsel Investigating Widespread Reprisal Against VA Whistle-Blowers.

The Daily Caller
written by Patrick Howley
Thursday June 12, 2014

The Obama administration knew about allegations of secret waiting lists at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) as early as 2010, The Daily Caller has learned.

The current VA scandal involving secret waiting lists that led to preventable veteran deaths at the Phoenix VA Medical Center claimed the scalp of Obama-appointed former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, who resigned at the end of last month. Former White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said that President Obama only found about the VA wait-list scandal from watching the news.

But the Obama administration knew that an internal VA investigation into secret “paper” waiting lists was conducted in 2010 under Shinseki.

“We conducted this review to determine the validity of an allegation that senior officials in Veterans Integrated Service Network 20 (VISN) instructed employees at the Portland VA Medical Center to use unauthorized wait lists to hide access and scheduling problems,” according to an August 17, 2010 VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) report entitled “Review of Alleged Use of Unauthorized Wait Lists at the Portland VA Medical Center,” which was obtained by TheDC.

The report was based on an OIG review conducted in Portland, Oregon between March and June 2010. The facility, like all VA medical centers, was prohibited from keeping paper waiting lists separate from the official electronic waiting-list system.

“OIG has reported problems since 2005 with schedulers not following established procedures for making or recording medical appointments. This practice has resulted in data integrity weaknesses that impacted the reliability of patient waiting times and facility waiting lists,” the report continued.

“The OIG received an anonymous e-mail alleging the use of unauthorized paper wait lists, and that the eye clinics had over 3,500 patients waiting more than 30 days for appointments,” according to the report.

The IG report noted that “We did not substantiate the allegation” about the unauthorized wait lists but nonetheless found that some staff did not notify more than 2,000 patients of follow-up appointments.

“No one admitted to either instructing or being instructed to use unauthorized paper wait lists,” the report stated. “We also conducted visual inspections of schedulers’ work areas and found no evidence of paper wait lists.”

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel is currently investigating claims of reprisal and abuse against VA whistleblowers in 19 different states.


The Daily Caller
written by Patrick Howley
Thursday June 5, 2014

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) is currently investigating allegations of whistleblower reprisal from 37 different Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) employees in 19 states, The Daily Caller has learned.

OSC is investigating allegations that VA retaliated against whistleblowers on cases involving “improper” health-care scheduling. VA is currently under fire after it was revealed that a secret waiting list kept at a Phoenix, Arizona VA medical facility led to preventable veteran deaths.

A VA employee in one of the cases alleged that he/she was slapped with a proposed seven-day suspension, a lowered performance evaluation and reassignment after reporting scheduling impropriety to the VA Inspector General.

OSC is also investigating 49 claims of scheduling improprieties and similar cases of misconduct that allegedly led to potential patient harm.

“OSC appreciates the VA’s cooperation in providing interim relief to these employees,” Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner said in a statement. “Receiving candid information about harmful practices from employees will be critical to the VA’s efforts to identify problems and find solutions. However, employees will not come forward if they fear retaliation.”

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