VA: No evidence delays in care caused vets to die

Officials at the Department of Veterans Affairs say investigators have found no evidence that health care delays at a Phoenix VA hospital led to the deaths of several dozen veterans, though the report confirmed internal troubles with the VA health care system and its delivery, according to the Associated Press.

The AP reported on Monday that the draft investigative report had not been publicly released, but was instead shared with top officials at the VA.

The AP quoted a statement from new VA Secretary Robert McDonald about the interim report from the VA's Office of Inspector General, which said that "while OIG's case reviews in the report document substantial delays in care, and quality-of-care concerns, OIG was unable to conclusively assert that the absence of timely quality care caused the death of these veterans."

Asked if he had seen the findings of the draft review, House Veterans Committee Chairman Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL) told me, "Not yet," adding that his panel's staff will be briefed about the findings on Wednesday morning.

The inspector general's office at the VA made no comment about the review, which has been ongoing since allegations surfaced that as many as 40 veterans may have died while waiting for health care appointments and treatment.

VA looks to modernize troubled scheduling system

After allegations that schedulers often used system tricks to make it look like veterans were not waiting that long for medical appointments, the VA has now taken a first step to replace what it describes as "its antiquated legacy scheduling system."

"The new system will improve access to care for Veterans by providing medical schedulers with cutting-edge, management-based scheduling software," the VA said in a statement issued on Monday.

The announcement did not say how much the VA planned to spend to upgrade its scheduling system.

A news release from the VA said the requirements for this new scheduling system will be issued by the end of September; vendors will then have 30 days to respond with their own proposals.