PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Congressional representatives in our region are asking why some 700 local veterans have waited months, and in some cases, even years to receive care from VA Pittsburgh healthcare system.
There are also questions whether local VA officials knowingly supplied federal overseers misleading or inaccurate statistics to cover up the long wait times.
“We’re looking for an accounting of how this happened, how was management responsible for this, what was the missing piece,” said U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus.
Congressman Rothfus has joined Congressmen Tim Murphy and Mike Doyle in demanding a deeper review from the VA’s inspector general, which recently found the names of 700 waiting vets on something called the New Enrollee Appointment Request List, which dates back to 2012.
In a letter to inspector general, Congressmen Murphy and Doyle say they are alarmed that senior leadership at the VA in Pittsburgh said they were unaware of the list and the backlog.
The letter reads in part:
“Care delayed is care denied, and no veteran should be forced to await treatment because of mismanagement, or worse. If any effort was undertaken to conceal the true details of how long veterans have to wait for care, then those responsible should be referred to appropriate legal authorities for further review.”
Vets like Geraldine Woleslagler, a former Navy nurse and corpsman from Oakdale, says the backlog is well-known.
Woleslagler: “It’s been going on and it should have been recognized a long time ago.”
KDKA’s Andy Sheehan: “What, that there was a cover-up?”
Woleslagler: “That there was a cover up, that there was something going on that vets weren’t being seen like they should be.”