Scheduling clerk Pauline DeWenter told CNN on Monday that officials at the Phoenix VA facility continued falsifying records to hide patients who died while waiting for care. If true, the accusations mean even more patients could have died waiting for care than the original 40 reported by CNN in April.
CNN's report came on the same day the US Office of the Special Counsel released its own finding that the VA attempted to hide serious shortfalls in its health-care system. The OSC report, quoting a previous 2013 letter, indicated that the VA "has consistently failed to take responsibility for identified problems."
Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson already announced the agency will abandon scheduling goals that led to perverse incentives for VA staff and conduct monthly in-person inspections of scheduling practices at VA hospitals and clinics. Congress also plans to pass its own fixes, including more funding for the VA system and increased access to VA-reimbursed private care.
Whether that will be enough to fix the VA's health-care system, especially if cover-ups are truly ongoing until recently, remains to be seen.