02.05.16

Gardner Calls for Swift Action After Reports of Falsified Records at Colorado Springs VA

“A Simple Investigation is Not Enough”

WASHINGTON – Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) today sent a letter to Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Robert McDonald demanding swift action following an Inspector General (IG) report that revealed employees at the Colorado Springs VA clinic hid long wait times for hundreds of veterans. According to the IG report, 228 veterans were forced to wait over 30 days to see a doctor. In 59 of those cases, VA staff entered false information into a database to cover up the long wait times; 28 veterans waited an average of 76 days before getting an appointment, even though their records indicated they were provided with a same-day appointment. 

The letter reads in full:

I write today to express my outrage about the implementation of the Veterans Choice program throughout the state of Colorado. I have received countless complaints from both veterans and providers alike that the management has been a catastrophe. Many of the complaints my office has received have been confirmed by an Office of Inspector General report released on February 4, 2016. Accounts of falsified documentation, lost paperwork, long wait times, veterans who cannot find care and cover-up schemes lead me to ask if the rollout of the Choice program has been willingly and purposely undermined.  

The Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act of 2014 sought to expand and ensure access to care for our veterans. This legislation was intended to provide flexibility and choice for veterans who are shut out of the system due to its inefficiencies, and allow them to seek care in the interim from non-VA care providers. This legislation sought to improve transparency within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and furthermore gave you the authority to remove any employee of the VA from a Senior Executive Service position based on poor performance.  

The needs of our veterans are undeniably not being met and the egregious roll out of this law has put veterans’ lives at risk. I demand that the individuals responsible for this mismanagement are held accountable for their actions. A simple investigation is not enough. Any VA employee found to have been involved in these scams needs to be immediately discharged without pay and should be further investigated to determine if criminal charges should be pursued. 

This situation is an absolute disgrace to our men and women in uniform, and I am appalled at the mistreatment of those who deserve our attention the most. The VA’s inability to manage their care is an embarrassment to our country, and an offense to those who sacrificed so much. 

I demand that you act quickly to repair this disaster. 

Gardner previously sent a letter to Secretary McDonald regarding the VA Choice Program after reports indicated many non-VA providers are not reimbursed in a timely manner, which has led to fewer options for veterans who are now refused care due to the VA’s widespread mismanagement.

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Cory Gardner is a member of the U.S. Senate serving Colorado. He sits on the Energy & Natural Resources Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee, the Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee, and the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee, and is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy.

354 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510

(202) 224-5941