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Report: 19 veterans waited months for care at Truman VA

Published On: Jun 04 2014 04:42:28 PM CDT
Updated On: Jun 05 2014 07:49:47 AM CDT

VA releases letter with list of vets waiting for treatment

COLUMBIA, Mo. -

More than one dozen Mid-Missouri veterans may have been delayed in receiving primary care treatment by more than 90 days in Columbia, according to a follow up investigation by the U.S. Inspector General.

U.S. Senator Roy Blunt recently received a letter from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs detailing Missouri VA hospitals where veterans waited for health care longer than 90 days.

That list includes 14 veterans at the Poplar Bluff facility, 26 at St. Louis, 12 at Kansas City, and 19 at Truman VA in Columbia.

The letter said the 108 delayed veterans across the Midwest, including the 19 waiting for treatment at the Truman VA hospital, will be contacted this week to schedule appropriate access to primary care.

Sen. Blunt issued a statement on the allegations late Wednesday:

“It is unacceptable and intolerable that veterans in Missouri or anywhere in America would receive this type of inadequate treatment. But this serious and systemic problem at the VA won’t be fixed until the president shows leadership and takes action. I personally visited the VA hospitals in Columbia and St. Louis last week, and I’ll keep fighting to restore accountability at the VA and give our heroes the care they need and deserve."

Only ABC 17 News caught up with 4th District U.S. Representative Vicky Hartzler at a farm event in Columbia Wednesday and was the first to tell her about the allegations.

"I had not heard that yet and so that's certainly very disturbing news if it is true.," Hartzler said. "There is an ongoing investigation being carried out and so I will be monitoring what the results of that investigation is and if it is true, I will be absolutely outraged."

The letter to Sen. Blunt described ten secret waiting lists between facilities in Missouri, Kansas, Illinois and Indiana and said two put veteran patients at risk.

Those facilities, though, were not named.

The Truman VA in Columbia was unavailable for comment on the allegations Wednesday.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, who just announced survey results showing high satisfaction rates at the facility. Her press secretary, Sarah Feldman had this to say:

"Our office is closely tracking this and has been in touch with VA officials - Claire wanted to ensure that the information gathered be referred to the independent watchdog, the Inspector General, and our understanding is that it is. While a self-audit is an important step, Claire remains focused on feedback provided directly by veterans - like through her secret shopper program - and by the independent Inspector General, and will continue to hold VA leaders accountable to both."

Rep. Harztler told ABC 17 News leaders at all levels needed to be held accountable.

"The Senate needs to pass what the House has already passed, which would allow the administration to fire the heads of the VAs in an easier fashion," she said. " We need to make sure they're not getting bonuses off the backs of our veterans."

The letter said all 108 veterans who reported delayed primary care in the Midwest region had been contacted about appropriate rescheduling for that care.

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