VA scandal: Excess wait times persist at Phoenix facility

Care delays persist within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) more than a year after a scandal erupted over wait times at the department's Phoenix facility, according to an investigation by CNN.

Veterans at the Phoenix VA, the center of the nationwide scandal, continue to wait as long as six months for care, according to CNN. More than 8,000 requests for care carried wait times of more than 90 days in August, according to documents obtained by the news outlet, and official measures prevent these figures from appearing in public data. VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson told CNN there are nearly 500,000 appointments within the system with extended wait times, even more than the number a year ago.

"How can it be?" he said. "The lesson that we've seen in location after location is when we improve access to care, whether it's by adding staff or space or productivity or care in the community, more veterans come to VA for more care."

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton's campaign clarified that the presidential candidate and former secretary of state is "outraged" by continual care delays within the VA after she said last week that Republicans had politicized the scandal and made it seem more "widespread" than it really was, the New York Times reports.

Clinton made the initial statement in a Friday interview on MSNBC, drawing criticism from Republicans. Yesterday the campaign clarified that she recognized reforms are needed within the VA to address the "systemic" problems, but expressed her opposition to privatizing the department as some have suggested.

Meaningful reform may require a "SWAT team," Clinton said, according to Forbes, but she expressed a belief that the VA needs more time to see if current reforms take effect. "Unfortunately, some [VA hospitals] are doing a lot better job than others are," Clinton said in the article. "And I think that the current new leadership that President Obama did put in seems to be trying to tackle a lot of it."

To learn more:
- read the CNN article
- here's the Times article
- read the Forbes piece

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