Science

VA Makes Little Progress In Fight To Shorten Waits For Care

FILE - In this Aug. 6, 2014, file photo, Deputy Veterans Affairs Secretary Sloan Gibson speaks during a news conference during a visit to a Denver veterans hospital. The Veterans Affairs Department is firing four senior executives as officials move to crack down on wrongdoing following a nationwide scandal over long wait times for veterans seeking medical care, and falsified records covering up the delays. Gibson said Monday, Oct. 6, the VA will "actively and aggressively pursue disciplinary action" against any employee who violates VA rules or values. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)
FILE - In this Aug. 6, 2014, file photo, Deputy Veterans Affairs Secretary Sloan Gibson speaks during a news conference during a visit to a Denver veterans hospital. The Veterans Affairs Department is firing four senior executives as officials move to crack down on wrongdoing following a nationwide scandal over long wait times for veterans seeking medical care, and falsified records covering up the delays. Gibson said Monday, Oct. 6, the VA will "actively and aggressively pursue disciplinary action" against any employee who violates VA rules or values. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)
Credit Brennan Linsley, File / Associated Press
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Government data reviewed by The Associated Press shows that the number of patients facing long waits at Veterans Affairs hospitals and clinics has not been dropping, despite reforms and a funding boost last summer.

Nearly 900,000 medical appointments completed at about 1,000 VA facilities from August to February failed to meet the health system’s timeliness goal, which calls for patients to be seen within 30 days.

A closer look reveals deep geographic disparities.

Many of those delays are clustered in a handful of Southern states.

VA officials cite numerous efforts to ramp up capacity. They include building new health centers and adding 8,000 employees since April.

Deputy VA Secretary Sloan Gibson acknowledged that the agency has been slow to adjust in places where there is rising demand.

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