Healthcare Delay Complaints from Georgia Veterans Prompt Ossoff’s Investigation into VA

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In a proactive move aimed at addressing the prolonged wait times for veterans seeking medical care, Senator Jon Ossoff (D-Georgia) initiated a federal inquiry on Thursday. The focus of the inquiry centers on the extended delays veterans face when attempting to secure appointments and healthcare services from community clinics, a critical aspect of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare system.

Senator Ossoff expressed his concern, stating, “I’m hearing consistently from veterans in Georgia that these wait times are impacting their health, so we’ve got to do better. The VA has got to do better. And we need to bring Republicans and Democrats together to press the VA to reduce these wait times for our veterans.”

Numerous veterans in Georgia have reported experiencing three to four-month-long waits to connect with community care specialists. These delays are especially worrisome given the potential adverse effects on veterans’ health. Frank Marx, a U.S. Army veteran who served from 1983–1987, shared his frustrations, detailing a litany of delays in receiving healthcare through the VA.

Marx highlighted a specific case where it took over a year to receive oxygen equipment after it was prescribed by a pulmonologist through the Community Cares program. “You accept the VA is going to be inept. But when they’re inept, even more so, a year and two months, really,” remarked Marx.

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Despite Marx’s account, the VA denied any significant delays in delivering oxygen equipment. Terrence Hayes, VA press secretary, stated, “While our team at VA Augusta Health Care System has no record of significant delays regarding the delivery of oxygen equipment to veteran patients, we encourage any veteran facing concerns to contact us so we can swiftly take action and deliver the high-quality care they deserve.”

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) supported claims of systemic issues in a November 2023 report. While acknowledging that the VA has taken steps to improve the appointment scheduling process, the GAO emphasized that additional actions are necessary. Less than 40% of VA Medical Centers were found to schedule the majority of their community care appointments within the 7-calendar-day standard.

Susan Marx, wife of veteran Frank Marx, added to the chorus of concerns, detailing delays in her husband’s care for severe osteoporosis. She revealed that it took approximately three months to secure an appointment with an endocrinologist through the Community Cares program. Despite the specialist prescribing a bi-annual procedure to improve bone density, Susan Marx expressed disappointment that the primary care physician through the VA had not moved forward with the recommended course of action.

In response to these pressing issues, Senator Ossoff issued an inquiry, demanding the VA’s response within 30 days. He emphasized, “Ongoing failure to make consistent improvements to community care wait times is unacceptable, and we are concerned that the lack of care time standards for community care only exacerbates the problem.”

A VA spokesperson acknowledged the inquiry and assured that they plan to respond promptly. “Our top priority at VA is providing veterans with the world-class, timely health care that they deserve, and we will never settle for anything less,” stated Terrence Hayes. He added, “We appreciate the oversight of our Congressional partners like Senator Ossoff, which helps us better serve our nation’s veterans, and we will respond directly to this letter.”

As the inquiry unfolds, the spotlight on VA healthcare practices intensifies, with Senator Ossoff leading the charge to ensure that veterans receive the high-quality and timely care they deserve. The ongoing collaboration between lawmakers and the VA will play a pivotal role in addressing the systemic issues plaguing the healthcare system for those who have bravely served the nation.

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