Southwest VA officials knew of wait time problems

PHOENIX (AP) — An audit by the Veterans Affairs health care network in the Southwest shows officials knew years ago that employees were manipulating data on doctor appointments.

The Arizona Republic reports ( ) that officials failed to stop the practice despite a national directive.

The 2012 audit found hospitals and clinics in Arizona, New Mexico and western Texas chronically violated department policy and created inaccurate data on patient wait times using a variety of methods.

In New Mexico, schedulers would sometimes cancel appointments and remake them to reflect acceptable wait times. The Albuquerque Journal reports ( ) details of the rigged scheduling were among the findings of an investigation trigged in 2013 by a whistleblower complaint.

Allegations that dozens of veterans died while awaiting appointments at the Phoenix VA medical center first triggered the national uproar over the VA.

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