Two members of the Florida congressional delegation are demanding answers of why the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) canceled hundreds of thousands of diagnostic medical tests. Last week, USA Today reported that the VA had canceled more than 250,000 radiology tests.
“Cancellations of more than 250,000 radiology orders at VA hospitals across the country since 2016 have raised questions about whether – in a rush to clear out outdated and duplicate diagnostic orders – some facilities failed to follow correct procedures. At issue is a concern over whether some medically necessary orders for CT scans and other imaging tests were canceled improperly,” USA Today reported. “The VA inspector general is auditing mass cancellations at eight VA medical centers ‘to determine whether VA processed radiology requests in a timely manner and appropriately managed canceled requests,’ VA Inspector General Michael Missal said. Those hospitals are in Tampa and Bay Pines, Florida; Salisbury, North Carolina; Cleveland; Dallas; Denver; Las Vegas; and Los Angeles. After receiving inquiries from USA Today, a ninth was added – Iowa City.”
From his perch on the U.S. House Veterans Affairs Committee, freshman U.S. Rep. Neal Dunn, R-Fla., who served as a doctor in the Army, weighed in on the report.
“The recent reports of mass cancellations of medically necessary diagnostic appointments at VA hospitals across the country is incredibly troubling,” Dunn said. “Over the last decade, the VA has dealt with scandal after scandal as we witnessed veterans dying on long waiting lists and being denied the care they have earned. These actions are completely unacceptable.
“As the Inspector General carries out his investigation, I will be working with the VA and my colleagues in Congress to address these issues,” Dunn added. “While our local VA hospitals in North Florida are not included in this investigation, I have already instructed my staff to look into whether these are systemic issues that plague veterans in the Second Congressional District of Florida. I am committed to addressing these issues to ensure that our veterans are receiving timely and quality care.”
Dunn wasn’t the only member of the Florida delegation to tackle the matter. U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., also supported an investigation of the cancellations.
“I am deeply troubled by reports that mass cancellations of diagnostic radiology tests have been uncovered at Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals now being audited by the VA Inspector General Office,” Wasserman Schultz said. “It is unacceptable that veterans may have gone months or even a year before they or their doctors realized these cancer tests were not performed – if discovered at all.
“My deeper concern is that other VA hospitals failed to follow guidelines for diagnostic order cancellations, and we still do not yet know the full scope of this problem. However, I am pleased that the Inspector General is aggressively working to provide a solution to this problem, and it shows the vital importance of having this strong auditing arm in the VA. That’s why Congress funded the Inspector General Office this year at $20 million more than was requested, for a total of $192 million,” she added. “I will continue to work tirelessly to provide the VA Inspector General with the resources it needs to address this and other problems that prevent our veterans from receiving the quality care they deserve.”