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.