Veterans Affairs Mess In Florida

The Veterans Affairs Department says more than 8,500 new patients have been waiting at least ninety days or longer for their initial medical appointments at one of Florida's six V.A. hospitals and clinics.

The Gainesville facility has the longest wait list.

The numbers came from an audit released today of the nation's 731 V.A. hospitals and outpatient clinics.

The investigative report confirms a culture of twisting the rules to cover up how long some veterans had to wait to get care.

Phoenix was far worst than most, but investigators turned up delays and fake waiting lists throughout the 731 hospital V.A. system

57,000 vets waiting for appointments after ninety days. 64,000 patients over the past ten years that never got seen.

Investigators found an overly complicated scheduling process, confusion among clerks and supervisors and 13% of schedulers ordered to falsify dates on waiting lists.

Some hospitals had longer waits.

The V.A. in Wichita? 35 days for new patients but just one day for established ones, but the V.A. makes about 6,000,000 appointments a month.

Just two percent of patients suffered long waits or got lost.

Louis Celli is the American Legion Legislative Director and said, "Any percentage is bad news. The fact that its low is encouraging."

Celli and the American Legion demanded V.A. Secretary, Eric Shinseki, resign.

No regrets, "All the American legion wanted was to make sure congress knew about it. That the administration knew about it," Celli added, now the White House does

Josh Earnest is the new White House Spokesperson, he said, "Being able to review this data should help us not just decide on the scope or determine the scope of this problem but also to evaluate proposed reforms that the President is committed to."

More than twenty Senators demand the F.B.I. step in, including Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut.

Blumenthal said, "There are not only scheduling delays, but secret lists, falsification of records...You think there may be crime involved? There may well be crimes involved."

In a system whose secrets are finally coming out many lawmakers frankly don't want to have to trust the V.A. to investigate itself after today's report finding that the problem's not as bad as many expected.

More than 5,000 Florida veterans that enrolled in the V.A. health care system over the past ten years have never had appointments.

The audit found that a complicated appointment process created confusion among scheduling clerks, and that the V.A.'s fourteen day goal for seeing first-time patients was unattainable.

Florida officials have filed a lawsuit seeking access to facilities to investigate allegations.