While the U.S. Veterans Affairs hospital in East Orange NJ has not surfaced as one of the VA sites participating in scheme to disguise waiting times, the state’s entire Congressional delegation wants details from it and six other nearby VA facilities.
In an attempt to determine how many New Jersey veterans might be affected by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs health care scandal, the state delegation has contacted seven Veterans’ Administration facilities about their wait times.
The 11-member Congressional delegation – of both parties – sent letters to the directors of VA centers in East Orange NJ, New York City, Wilmington, Del., Wilkes Barre, PA., Coatesville, PA., Lebanon, PA., and Philadelphia.
The Office of the Inspector General of the veterans agency is investigating reports that staffers falsified computerized scheduling records to mask long waiting times for patients. That investigation focuses on 27 facilities nationwide, but does not include the one in East Orange, a spokesman for Rep. Leonard Lance said last month.
“The IG found it’s a systemic problem. So I’d be surprised if we didn’t find out there were problems elsewhere,” said Maggie Seidel, spokeswoman for Rep. Scott Garrett (R-Sussex), the Republican representative who spearheaded the joint letter from the state’s delegation.
The letter asks the directors of the seven facilities to disclose how many veterans are currently on the wait list for appointments, how long is the average wait time for New Jersey veterans to receive an appointment what safeguards are in place to ensure that all veterans are placed on the appropriate electronic waitlist, and whether there have been any reported incidents of wait time and data manipulation at that facility.
Seidel said the six out-of-state sites were picked because they are contiguous to New Jersey, and New Jersey veterans might seek care either at their hospitals or at clinics they run.
All 11 congressmebers signed the letters, which ask for a timely response.