Here’s what’s in store Monday for the VA scheduling scandal

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Monday promises to be a busy day for the Department of Veterans Affairs, with the agency scheduled to release a new report on its scheduling problems and then testify about the issue at a hearing before the House Veterans Affairs Committee.

The new report covers an internal audit of VA hospitals nationwide. Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson said during a visit on Thursday to the Phoenix health clinic at the center of the scandal that the findings would “demonstrate the extent of the systemic problems we have discovered.”

Gibson said the report would also show how many patients were placed on unofficial wait lists that kept treatment delays off the books.


Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs Sloan Gibson speaks Thursday in Phoenix. (AP/Matt York).

In Phoenix, 18 patients are known to have died while on such lists, Gibson said Thursday. He said the department’s inspector general is still trying to determine whether treatment delays contributed to their deaths.

The hearing on Monday will feature testimony from VA officials, as well as from the VA inspector general’s office and Congress’s nonpartisan investigative arm, the Government Accountability Office.

The IG last month launched a nationwide investigation of VA scheduling practices following widespread allegations of VA hospitals falsifying appointment records to hide treatment delays and earn performance bonuses. An interim report on the review last month largely confirmed those claims, prompting former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign.


The Phoenix VA health care center. (AP/Ross D. Franklin)

The IG and GAO have produced multiple reports dating back to the George W. Bush administration citing inappropriate scheduling practices at VA medical centers. Lawmakers on the House committee are likely to question the department’s officials about why the problems were not corrected.

Meanwhile, the White House continues its search for a permanent secretary to replace Shinseki after the chief executive of the renowned Cleveland Clinic, Vietnam veteran and well-respected heart surgeon Delos Cosgrove, withdrew his name from consideration on Saturday.

Follow Josh Hicks on TwitterFacebook or Google+. Connect by e-mail at  josh.hicks(at)washpost.comVisit The Federal Eye and The Fed Page for more federal news. Submit news tips and suggestions to federalworker@washpost.com.

Josh Hicks covers Maryland politics and government. He previously anchored the Post’s Federal Eye blog, focusing on federal accountability and workforce issues.
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