Veterans wait months for care in Philadelphia
In Philadelphia, some veterans wait longer for health care than civilians, but both experience wait times as long as three months.
A VA audit released this week revealed that 400 veterans waited for more than 90 days for their first appointment at the Philadelphia VA in University City and hundreds more asked for an appointment in the last 10 years and never had one scheduled.
The audit came as part of an investigation into Veterans Affairs locations nationwide after reports of falsified documents at a VA in Phoenix, Ariz.
The Philadelphia VA's average wait time for a first-time, primary-care appointment was 43 days, an average made higher due to the 400 cases of extremely long wait times.
Civilians in Philadelphia experience long wait times for primary care as well — up to 83 days at the city's eight health clinics. A recent survey by Merritt Hawkins, a healthcare staffing company, found that Philadelphians waited up to 100 days to see a physician in a family practice, although the average wait time was 21 days. The wait times for veterans and civilians alike is caused, in part, by a shortage of physicians.
The inspector general has cited that of the 42 VA facilities in the country under investigation for falsifying appointment records, at least one is in Pennsylvania, but the list has not been released. In a press conference on veterans' health issues, Sen. Bob Casey (D-Penn.) said that he would assume corruption in Pennsylvania VA facilities based on findings in Phoenix.
The audit's findings are based on five days of interviews at facilities across the nation. Philadelphia's VA, along with four others in the state, were flagged for further investigation.