Audit: Bonuses, ‘Systemic Lack of Integrity’ At the Heart of Wait Times Scandal

Audit: Bonuses, ‘Systemic Lack of Integrity’ At the Heart of Wait Times Scandal

More than 60 percent of VA hospitals and clinics manipulated veteran wait times and access to health care, according to an audit released on May 30 by the White House.

Even more troubling, the audit noted a “systemic lack of integrity within some Veterans Health Administration facilities” as well as a culture created by unrealistic expectations for success of the maximum 14-day wait times policy plus the fact that incentives and bonuses were tied to employees meeting the 14-day goal.

According to USA Today, “the audit released … found that meeting a 14-day wait-time performance target for new appointments was not attainable because of struggles to hire enough health-care providers to meet a growing demand for service. Imposing that expectation without adequate resources is ‘an organizational leadership failure,’ the audit stated. In some cases, schedulers were pressured to make wait times appear more favorable. Auditors called such practices pervasive and urged the VA to ‘re-examine its entire performance-management system.’ ”

This is just the first phase of the audit process, covering VA’s largest hospitals and clinics. The remainder of the VA facilities will be audited in a second phase.

Other resources on this story

VA audit finds misconduct widespread; in Arizona, reaction is scorn
Los Angeles Times, May 30, 2014

Internal VA Audit Confirms Tampering With Patient Wait Times
Wall Street Journal, May 30, 2014

Audit Finds A ‘Systemic Lack of Integrity’
Politico, May 30, 2014