White House report: VA healthcare system needs overhaul - KCTV5

White House report: VA healthcare system needs overhaul

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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

The Veterans Affairs healthcare system needs an overhaul, according to a White House review that just came out Friday night.

The White House started investigating the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs when a report surfaced that 18 veterans died waiting for care at a VA hospital in Phoenix, AZ. Their review found a number of problems, from management to scheduling software.

Many local veterans say the information released in Friday's report confirms things they've known all along.

"You apply to get in there and you submit a lot of paperwork, then it comes back and they lose your paper work," said Sgt. Larry Fries.

Fries said it took three years for the VA hospital to process his paperwork so he could get his VA card. The 72-year-old Vietnam veteran who spent 23 years in the Army refuses to give up.

"You got to have a lot of strong willpower, just keep going after them to get into the system," he said.

Fries isn't alone in his frustration with the sometimes slow pacing at VA hospitals. Two weeks ago, the VFW met with veterans who had difficulty getting appointments and were given delayed wait times.

Friday the acting VA secretary and President Obama's deputy chief of staff handed the president a report which pulled no punches. It said "A corrosive culture has led to personnel problems across the department that are seriously impacting morale and by extension, the timeliness of healthcare."

It also said "The Veterans Health Administration needs to be restructured and reformed. It currently acts with little transparency or accountability ..."

Fries agrees that the VA needs an overhaul.

"I believe they should be replaced with somebody in there that's going to give a damn," he said.

Even with the new report, it's unclear when people will see policy changes or a VA overhaul that so many are calling for.

Here are the suggestions from the report:

Eliminate the previous mandate of a 14-day maximum wait time for appointment. The review called that "Ill-defined and unrealistic."

Update the VA's outdated scheduling software, which was first used almost 30 years ago.

Hire more doctors and nurses.

Plan for changed in the demographics veterans, including more female veterans and the growing number of older veterans.

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