Rep. Lujan Grisham speaks out about VA audit

Created: 06/22/2014 9:40 PM
By: Lauren Hansard, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Veterans deserve the medical treatment they were promised before they signed up for the military. Nobody argues that. So, reports of VA hospital staff playing around with their time, compromising their health, and giving them unsatisfactory care creates outrage, especially to New Mexico’s lawmakers.

Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham says things need to change.

While the report confirms the Albuquerque VA hospital did falsify wait times. There are still a lot of questions. The report doesn't identify exactly how long this has been going on or how it started in the first place.

Officials at the Albuquerque VA hospital told investigators that staff has been falsifying wait times for years, possibly more than a decade.

Investigators found many appointments were cancelled and then remade to comply with VA wait time standards. They also found it wasn't intentional, but done because hospital personnel say it’s the way they've always done it.

In fact the report states, "This was being directed by management."

The report says officials knew of the problem and held meetings in October 2011 and spring of 2012 and 2013 to fix the problem. However, despite the effort, wait times continued to be manipulated.

Investigators were unable to pinpoint exactly when it started.

Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham says she wants these questions answered. She wants the U.S. Department of Justice to conduct an independent investigation.

"I think it's a damaging report, but I don't think the fact that they can't identify how that's happening tells me it is inconclusive and ineffective, and we can't do the culture change which is why I want somebody from the outside,” said Grisham

Grisham says she is working in congress to give veterans other options for health care.

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