After being alerted by a whistleblower that leaders at a VA Medical Center in Houston were telling staff to falsify wait times, the Veteran's Affairs inspector general took a look.
What the IG found is alarming. More than a year after the national scandal broke that exposed widespread delays and attempts by officials to hide them, this clinic was still masking chronic wait times for veterans.
The report found that the Houston VA Center repeatedly recorded the times the clinic canceled an appointment as a patient cancellation.
The difference is important, because if the patient cancels, the wait time clock starts over. If the clinic cancels, the clock keeps ticking until the vet actually gets in to see a doctor.
According to the IG's report, of the 373 appointments it examined between June 2014 and June 2015 that the clinic said were patient cancellations, 223 had in fact been canceled by the clinic.
Of those 223 veterans, 42% ended up waiting an average of 81 days before getting a new appointment. But by misreporting the reason for the cancellation, the clinic was able to claim that these veterans had waited just 3 days.
As a result, the IG says, "recorded wait times did not reflect the actual wait experienced by the veterans."
The IG says that he didn't find evidence that the medical center's director had told his staff to purposely hide wait times, but the audit did find that "two previous scheduling supervisors and a current director of two (Community Based Outpatient Clinics) instructed staff, as recently as February 2016, to input clinic cancellations incorrectly as canceled by the patient."
Keep in mind that this all happened in the immediate aftermath of the massive VA wait-time scandal, which had been in the news for months, and led to the resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, who stepped down on May 30, 2014. That same day, President Obama promised that "we're going to do right by our veterans across the board, as long as it takes."
This isn't the first indication that Obama has since failed to live up to that promise. Just last month, NPR reported that wait times for veterans had gotten worse, not better, after Congress poured an additional $10 billion into the Veterans Health Administration to ease chronic delays.
Meanwhile, a recent Government Accountability Office report found that chronic delays by the VHA in paying non-VA community providers is putting veterans at risk of losing access to these providers.
This is the kind of health care, mind you, that leftists like Bernie Sanders want to impose on everyone in the U.S.