According to reports, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced it will return to 30-day waiting lists before outsourcing appointments for veterans to non-VA facilities.
BREAKING: VA just announced new patients will wait no more than 30 days for appointment or to begin referral process to a non-VA facility.— Ben Kesling (@bkesling) May 27, 2014
This change comes in the midst of a furor about delays in treatment for veterans. The scandal has continued to make headlines throughout this month and even prompted a congressional hearing. Inciting more anger than the delay was the divulging of secret patient waiting lists at a number of VA hospitals.
Accompanying those reports have been accusations that as many as 40 veterans have died while awaiting care. A number of politicians and a few veterans organizations have called for Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki's resignation.
More than a lowering of standards, the resetting of a 30-day wait time is more of a return to realistic expectations. As recently as last week, it was reported that Robert Petzel, the recently fired undersecretary for health at the Department of Veterans Affairs, said that the goal of cutting wait times to 14 days from 30 days, which was the standard set in 1995, was "unrealistic." The actual average wait time was said to be about 21 days.
With this adjustment, the VA will correct some expectations, but more importantly, address the problem of what happens to veterans waiting for care when the allotted waiting period is up.