Officials at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs systematically destroyed backlogged requests for medical examinations by veterans in order to boost the agency’s “efficiency,” the Daily Caller reported Thursday. The site posted audio, purportedly from a meeting at the VA’s Los Angeles office, wherein officials discuss how to go about destroying the requests. According to a former employee, the practice has been going on since at least 2008
“Anything over a year old should be canceled,” an official says in the recording. “They wouldn’t let us do a mass purge, so it’s just a matter of getting in there and canceling them ourselves ... Your backlog should start at April ’07. Not anything earlier than that.”
Oliver Mitchell, a veteran and former patient services assistant at the VA, said that the backlog of medical examination requests had gotten so bad, patients were waiting for six to nine months to be seen. Apparently, the VA’s solution to this was to simply delete the oldest requests.
“We just didn’t have the resources to conduct all of those exams. Basically we would get about 3,000 requests a month for [medical] exams, but in a 30-day period we only had the resources to do about 800. That rolls over to the next month and creates a backlog,” Mitchell said. ”It’s a numbers thing. The waiting list counts against the hospitals [sic] efficiency. The longer the veteran waits for an exam that counts against the hospital as far as productivity is concerned.”
Mitchell says he filed a complaint with the Virginia Inspector General, then wrote to Congress about it, and was fired two months later.
It bears mentioning that the credibility of the Daily Caller’s reporting has recently been called into question. Last year, the right-leaning site published a story about U.S. Senator Bob Menendez soliciting prostitutes; it was later revealed that numerous other news outlets had passed on the story due to lack of substantiation, and one source alleged that the Daily Caller paid him to help fabricate the story.
Nevertheless, if this most recent report is accurate, it’s pretty damning stuff. It’s unclear whether this was an agency-wide procedure or exclusive to the Los Angeles office.