10.05.16

Burr & Tillis Respond to IG Reports on Salisbury VA Radiology Care and Wait Time Manipulation

WASHINGTON — Today, Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) issued statements in response to the release of Office of Inspector General (OIG) reports detailing radiology exam backlogs and wait time manipulation at the VA medical facility in Salisbury, North Carolina.

This Inspector General report uncovered the following troubling findings about radiology care:

  • A backlog of 3,300 radiology exams in 2014.
  • Failure to effectively manage radiology workload and carry out timely exams.
  • 15 patients died while waiting for exams.

This Inspector General report makes the following findings about wait time manipulation:

  • Schedulers began falsifying wait time reports in 2007.
  • More than half the schedulers interviewed were routinely fixing patient appointments at the request of their supervisors.
  • The Salisbury VA was engaged in the same fraudulent activity that the scandal at the Phoenix VA showed to be systemic across the entire VA.

“It is unacceptable that North Carolina veterans are still waiting for medical care,” said Senator Burr. “No veteran should be left waiting for months to receive medical care, and under the Choice program, they do not have to. It’s clear that the VA was not effectively using the Choice program to help veterans receive radiological exams in an acceptable time frame and that wait time data was being falsified. I’m committed to doing whatever it takes to ensure that our veterans get the care they need. I will keep fighting for my legislation to improve the Veterans Choice program. America made a promise to our men and women in uniform, and I will keep that promise.”

“The findings of today’s report are profoundly disturbing,” said Senator Tillis. “This is not the way the VA should be treating the men and women who risked everything in service to our country. My office has assisted many veterans in the Charlotte area who have had difficulty getting timely appointments at the Salisbury VA Medical Center, and the IG report confirms the worst of our suspicions. This conduct at the VA would not be tolerated in the private sector, and the perpetrators would be subject to both civil and criminal penalty. I will continue to work with Senator Burr to pursue legislation that will provide more accessible healthcare services to our brave veterans and will make it easier for the VA to fire bad actors who abuse their positions.”

Earlier this year, Senator Richard Burr introduced the bipartisan Veterans Choice Improvement Act of 2016. This legislation makes the Veterans Choice Program, which was created in 2014 to allow veterans to get needed health care outside of the VA system, a permanent program with advance funding. It will also make needed changes and reforms to address the bureaucratic delays, hassles and confusion that veterans have continued to experience in attempting to get health care. Senator Burr also penned an op-ed for the Fayetteville Observer about fixing veterans’ healthcare.