Washington, D.C. – Tonight U.S. Senator Ben Sasse pushed the Department of Veterans Affairs for answers regarding reports that VA employees kept a secret waiting list of patients from Nebraska and Iowa, obscuring actual wait times for veterans who sought appointments.
“The existence of a secret list … is shocking,” said Sasse, “and the VA’s refusal to answer questions about it is unacceptable and must be remedied immediately.”
The full text of the letter is found below.
Dear Secretary Shulkin:
A recent internal audit of the Veteran Affairs Nebraska-Western Iowa Health Care System reportedly revealed that employees kept a secret waiting list of patients from Nebraska and Iowa who had sought VA appointments, obscuring actual wait times for veterans. Existence of a secret list would violate Veterans Administration regulations that are meant to ensure fair and prompt treatment of our nation’s heroes. In response to media coverage of the audit, VA officials acknowledged the investigation but “declined to answer questions about the audit.”
The existence of a secret list or lists of those denied appointments or for whom treatment was delayed is shocking, and the VA’s refusal to answer questions about it is unacceptable and must be remedied immediately. I trust you share this view.
Accordingly, please provide answers to the following questions no later than Friday, October 20th:
- How many Nebraska veterans were affected by the secret lists?
- Who at the VA kept the lists?
- What exactly did the audit indicate was the reason for the existence of the lists?
- How many VA employees were disciplined as a result of the investigation and what disciplinary actions were taken?
- Did any employee that has been or is in the process of being disciplined as a result of the investigation receive bonuses for the achievement of metrics linked to performance data implicated in the investigation of the secret lists?
- What legal standards or authority has the VA cited or otherwise used, if any, in its refusal to identify how many Nebraska veterans were affected, why the lists were maintained, and how many VA employees were disciplined?
Please include a copy of the full internal audit with your responses. Nebraskans have no patience for improper treatment of our veterans, nor for attempts to cover it up.
Thank you for your prompt attention to this important issue.