New VA Data Shows Tripling Of Wait Times For Connecticut Health System

Latest Numbers Further Call into Question Accuracy of Initial Reports

(Hartford, CT) – U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) released a letter today to Acting Veterans Affairs Secretary Sloan Gibson seeking an explanation of new data showing a tripling of wait times in Connecticut and nationwide at VA facilities. The latest numbers, reporting average wait times for VA facilities on June 15, show dramatic increases in Connecticut and at other facilities nationwide over initially released data, further calling into question the accuracy of initial reports.

The number of scheduled appointments beyond 30 days almost tripled in Connecticut between May 15 and June 15, from 998 to 2,727 individuals, and consistently doubled and in some cases quadrupled in other states.

“I would appreciate an explanation of this across-the-board, unacceptable rise. Simply put, the VA seems to be going in exactly the wrong direction in seeking to address dangerous and deadly health care delays,” Blumenthal states in the letter. “Such statistics raise serious questions. Why are the wait times increasing? Is there a lack of administrative resources? A shortage of doctors or other critical health care professionals? Are the numbers themselves valid and consistently reported?” Blumenthal asked.

Further, Blumenthal released a second letter to Gibson calling for the release of detailed site-specific audit data regarding scheduling practices at 216 VA facilities nationwide.

The VA has released only limited site-based information from its audit of 216 VA facilities nationwide, including all Connecticut facilities, including the West Haven and Newington campuses, and all six Community Based Outpatient Clinics in Danbury, New London, Stamford, Waterbury, Willimantic and Winsted.

Full VA access reports from June 9, June 19 and July 3 can be found here.  

Full text of both letters is below.

July 5, 2014

 

Sloan Gibson, Acting Secretary

United States Department of Veterans Affairs

810 Vermont Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20420

 

 

Dear Secretary Gibson:

 

I am writing to express my strong concern regarding the latest VA Access Audit wait time numbers reflecting a tripling of appointment delays in excess of 30 days in Connecticut and similar increases in VA facilities across the nation.  I would appreciate an explanation of this across-the-board, unacceptable rise. Simply put, the VA seems to be going in exactly the wrong direction in seeking to address dangerous and deadly health care delays. 

 

The troubling trend is established by your own statistics. VA Access Audit numbers were first reported for May 15, 2014.  Scheduling numbers were subsequently reported for June 1st and, most recently, on June 15th.  

 

The number of scheduled appointments beyond 30 days has almost tripled in Connecticut, and consistently doubled and even quadrupled in other states.   In Connecticut, the number of scheduled appointment exceeding 30 days from the requested date was 998 on May 15 and increased to 2727 on June 15th.  The wait times of more than 30 days nationwide rose from 242,069 to 636,436.  Such statistics raise serious questions.  Why are the wait times increasing?   Is there a lack of administrative resources? A shortage of doctors or other critical health care professionals? Are the numbers themselves valid and consistently reported?   

 

The VA cannot improve the delivery of health care or restore trust and confidence in its integrity and effectiveness without clearly and accurately explaining these numbers.  I would appreciate your timely explanation of the most recent trend in scheduling delays across the nation and, most importantly for me, here in Connecticut. 

 

 

                                                            Sincerely,

 

 

 

                                                            Richard Blumenthal       

                                                            United States Senate

 

 

 

 

 

Press Contact

Elizabeth Benton

elizabeth_benton@blumenthal.senate.gov