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Opening Statement of Hon. Jeff Miller, Ranking Republican Member, Subcommittee on Health

 

Thank you Chairman Mitchell and Chairman Michaud. 

Timely access to health care services is a critical aspect of providing high quality care to our Nation’s veterans.

Since 2004, the VA has continued to report substantial improvements in meeting the performance standard VA itself established to schedule appointments within 30 days of a patient’s requested date of an appointment.  

However, while we have been receiving reports showing that VA was meeting its goal in about 96% of the cases, I am extremely disturbed by a recent audit of VA’s outpatient waiting times by the VA Office of Inspector General (IG).  

The IG found that previous problems with outpatient scheduling procedures uncovered in their 2005 audit still exist and the accuracy of the data recorded to calculate outpatient waiting times is not reliable. 

The IG report states: “While waiting time inaccuracies and omissions from electronic waiting lists can be caused by a lack of training and data entry errors, we also found that schedulers at some facilities were interpreting the guidance from their managers to reduce waiting times as instruction to never put patients on the electronic waiting list. This seems to have resulted in some “gaming” of the scheduling process.”

I take great interest in monitoring how long veterans must wait for care and it is unacceptable for the VA to provide incomplete and erroneous waiting time data. 

I expect as an outcome of our hearing today that VA immediately employ corrective actions to record and report waiting times accurately.  It is my top priority to ensure that veterans are able to access the care they need from VA. 

Further, as a co-sponsor of my colleague, Ginny Brown-Waite’s legislation, H.R. 92, the Veterans Timely Access to Health Care Act, I believe if VA cannot meet its own established access standard for any veteran, that patient should be given the choice to receive care in a non-VA facility.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, I look forward to the testimony and I yield back the balance of my time.