At least one attempt to implement a scheduling system at the VA never got off the ground after nearly a decade of trying.
Apparently a medical scheduling project for the VA was begun in 2000 and was discontinued in 2009, 9 years after it the project began — and it remained utterly unfinished. Nothing seems to have been done for another 3 years until 2012, when the Secretary of Veteran’s Affairs launched a contest to create an app for scheduling — a contest which didn’t close until the summer of 2013. Was it during this interim time between scheduling systems that the practice of “secret lists” began as a coverup/bandaid for the problem?
According to a press release in 2013 announcing the winners in the “scheduling app” contest, it was noted that the “VA started to develop a Medical Scheduling Package replacement in 2000. This effort was not successful. When VA ended the project in 2009, none of the planned capabilities were delivered. It had cost more than $127 million”.
So, was used at the VA between the end of the Medical Scheduling Package project in 2009 and the Medical Scheduling App Contest of 2012/2013?
We now know there were secret waiting lists as some of the facilities. It also appears the the Obama Administration knew about the “secret waiting lists” as early as 2010. The Daily Caller reports that there was an internal VA investigation in 2010 regarding “paper” waiting lists:
“We conducted this review to determine the validity of an allegation that senior officials in Veterans Integrated Service Network 20 (VISN) instructed employees at the Portland VA Medical Center to use unauthorized wait lists to hide access and scheduling problems,” according to an August 17, 2010 VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) report entitled “Review of Alleged Use of Unauthorized Wait Lists at the Portland VA Medical Center”
Underfunding the Department of Veterans Affairs is not the problem. From 2007 to 2012, enrollment in VA services has increased by 13% from 2007 to 2012. At the same time, the VA budget went from $82 million to $125 million — a 53% increase, and the biggest jump in the VA’s budget history since records go back to 1940. The failed Medical Scheduling Package project alone cost $127 million dollars.
$127 million is a lot of taxpayer monies that could have been used on veterans’ treatments. Yet even with a generous budget, the VA could not deliver quality services to our Veterans.