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Eglin's Veterans Administration
We have a systemic failure of an entire department of our government. And this goes long and far beyond phony wait lists.
A bill aimed at giving veterans more options for medical care in response to the VA wait time scandal passed in the House today by a unanimous vote.
The legislation would allow veterans who experience long wait times to seek care outside VA facilities.
The senate is expected to consider a similar measure later this week.
The VA audit released Monday determining that 57,000 veterans have been waiting to see doctors for more than 3 months.
An Internal Veterans Affairs audit released yesterday found that 57,000 veterans waited more than 90 days for medical care.
And schedulers at 90 clinics across the country admit they made it appear vets are getting quick access to medical care when they're not.
Dozens of sites were flagged for further investigation---including the VA clinics in Pensacola, and on Eglin Air Force Base.
Laura Hussey "The VA says a site like the Eglin Clinic being flagged for review means exactly that. This "Access Audit" was a five day blitz of interviews and surveys, not a formal investigation"
House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller says it appears corruption is ingrained in the VA health care system.
He points out that bonuses and salary increases for VA employees can be tied to patient wait times.
Here on the gulf coast, the Associate Director of the VA system says wait times have absolutely not been manipulated.
He says they welcome the audit.
Dr. Thomas Brown "Nothing really stood out in the debrief that I felt like was going to be a problem for us. Of course as you read there are some problems that were noted. And I could say to you that I'm sure they're not going to be glaring in any nature"
Dr. Thomas Brown says right now at the Eglin clinic, there are seven patients waiting to be contacted for appointments.
They should be seen in twenty to thirty days.
But mistrust of the VA is widespread - just ask these Air Force veterans.
Aaron Farrior/CMsgt Ret "I've known it for ten years. I didn't have to wait til it just came out, 'cause they've jacked me around for the last ten years"
At the Army-Navy Store, Henry Huebner says he hasn't heard complaints about the Eglin clinic, but problems with the VA are nothing new.
Henry "So I don't understand why this has taken so long for someone to say hey we have a problem, let's fix this problem. Or can we at least acknowledge the fact that we have a problem"
Laura Hussey "The access to care legislation passed by the house today was proposed by Congressman Jeff MIller. It includes a provision to ban bonuses for VA employees through fiscal 2016. "