VA OIG still hasn't released months-old reports into wait-time scandal

Members of Congress say they can't address problems with the Veterans Affairs' wait-time scandal because the agency's Office of Inspector General hasn't released its investigative findings, USA Today reported.

The inspector general found scheduling problems at 51 of 73 VA facilities across the country, the newspaper reported, but hasn't released the findings to Congress or the public. OIG has only said generically that the violations "range from simple rule violations to deliberate fraud," according to the article.

"The investigation began almost two years ago, and we can't address the problems when we don't know the full picture," Rep. John Carney (D-Del.) told the newspaper.

USA Today filed a Freedom of Information Act request with OIG for the reports; the office said it would release them "shortly." To date the findings have only been shared internally, the paper said, despite the fact that the reports were completed months ago.

The delays continue even after President Barack Obama signed legislation in December that requires the VA to release investigative reports within three days of completion. A VA spokeswoman told the paper that the new law applied only to "issued" reports that include recommendations based on findings. The wait-time investigations don't make recommendations or suggest corrective actions, she said.

The USA Today report came the same week federal investigators found that a suburban Chicago VA facility ignored whistleblower reports that supervisors covered up delays in care. The week also brought the firings of the head of the VA's Ohio-based regional network and the suspension of the acting chief of staff of the VA hospital in Cincinnati.

And the VA's problems appear far from being fixed, with reports in December that some VA facilities are ignoring the Choice Act, which gives veterans access to care in civilian hospitals that can treat them more quickly than VA facilities.

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