Rep. Martha Roby (R-Ala.) said Wednesday that a majority of employees surveyed said they were told to manipulate patient wait time data at the Central Alabama Veterans, and provided other evidence that she said indicates that the Central Alabama facility may be the most corrupt in the nation.
Roby said recent investigations also show that key medical personnel weren’t punished for fabricated and lost key medical data, and noted that the director of the facility lied to her direction when he said some employees had been fired.
But she said the “rampant” manipulation of veterans wait time data is perhaps the most egregious problem of all in Central Alabama. She said the manipulation of wait times was not done at the hands of just a few officials, but instead was a “facility-led standard operating procedure.”
“More than 57 percent of staff surveyed at Central Alabama said they received instruction to manipulate patient wait times,” she said on the House floor.
“Fifty-seven percent. That is off the charts,” she said. “The national average is 12.7 percent, and other systems near Montgomery aren’t even close.”
Roby also outlined the case of a pulmonologist at the Montgomery, Alabama, who manipulated more than 1,200 patient records to “show tests that never occurred.”
“After being caught, the doctor was never fired or suspended,” she said. “He actually was caught manipulating records again, but somehow went on to receive a satisfactory performance review.
“At least 900 unread patient x-ray tests, many showing malignancies, were lost over a five-year period,” she added. “When the tests were discovered recently, top hospital administrators tried to cover up the problem.”
Back in June, Roby revealed that James Talton, director of the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System, lied to her when he said some VA officials had been fired.
Roby recounted that story on Wednesday, and said that episode shows that veterans are having a hard time trusting the VA when VA officials lie to members of Congress.
“If a member of Congress can’t get a straight answer from the VA, imagine what our veterans go through every single day,” she said.
The House this week is expected to vote on a VA reform bill. But that bill still allows the VA to award up to $3.6 billion in bonuses to officials over the next decade.
The bill also doesn’t go as far as a House-passed bill that allows the VA to immediately fire corrupt officials. Instead, it gives VA officials a chance to appeal personnel decisions.