Senators Burr and Tillis React to North Carolina VA Wait Time Report

WASHINGTON – Today, Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) reacted to a troubling report by the Veteran’s Affairs Inspector General that found multiple VA medical facilities in North Carolina are not keeping adequate or consistent records on veterans’ wait times and failing to provide veterans with timely care.

“It is absolutely unacceptable that the scheduling system does not provide accurate information about wait times,” said Senator Burr. “A significant percentage of veterans are still waiting more than 30 days for necessary health care appointments. Furthermore, the VA has failed to identify and assist 90 percent of the veterans who, due to wait times, are eligible to use the Choice program to receive care outside of the VA system. This shameful incompetence caused some veterans to wait more than 80 days for an appointment. I expect Secretary Shulkin to use the power that Congress has given him to hold employees accountable and get the results that our veterans demand.”

“Today’s report confirms that veterans continue to face unacceptable wait times to receive care at the VA, and it also reveals major issues plaguing the VA Choice Program that must be addressed,” said Senator Tillis. “I will continue working with my colleagues on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee to implement reforms that improve the timely delivery of community care for veterans and pursue legislation that will require VA to fully implement a consistent and transparent way of tracking wait times at VA facilities. Until all VA facilities track wait times in a uniform manner, Congress is limited in its ability to conduct meaningful oversight.”

Troubling findings from the report include:

  • An estimated 36 percent of the appointments for new patients had wait times longer than 30 days, with an average wait time of 59 days. These numbers are significantly higher than the wait time data the electronic scheduling system showed.
  • Medical facilities failed to consistently enter correct clinically indicated or supported preferred appointment dates when scheduling appointments. Staff did not identify an estimated 13,800 of these 15,300 appointments or 90 percent of the veterans who should have been eligible for the Choice program.
  • Medical facility staff did not ensure that veterans authorized to participate in the Choice program received care within 30 days as required by VA contracts. An estimated 82 percent of the appointments for veterans who receive care through Choice during the relevant time period had wait times longer than 30 days.

The full report is available online here.