Feinstein asks VA chief to review wait times at California facilities

Feinstein has asked that wait times for appointments at VA facilities in California be reviewed immediately

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein on Monday called on the Department of Veterans Affairs to immediately review wait times for appointments at VA facilities in California, citing reports of veterans facing waits of up to 90 days at Los Angeles and Long Beach VA facilities.

In a letter to acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson, Feinstein asked for a response in 10 business days. A VA spokesman said the department has received Feinstein's letter and will respond.

The letter comes after the VA inspector general last week reported systemic problems throughout the nation in scheduling veterans for medical care, including manipulating records to hide long waits for appointments. At the Phoenix VA, the main subject of the interim report,  investigators found a sample of 226 veterans waited an average 115 days.

"It has become clear that the VA has failed to address long appointment wait times for veterans, instead allowing a culture of coverups to take hold," Feinstein said in a statement.

She joins a growing number of lawmakers who are stepping up the pressure on the VA to identify the facilities under review and what problems have been uncovered.

Earlier Monday, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) called on the acting VA secretary to release site-specific details of a department audit of 216 VA facilities presented to the White House on Friday.

"The American public, most especially our nation's veterans, deserves and needs to see these site audit reports immediately," Blumenthal, a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, wrote Gibson. "They have a right to know where problems have been found, who is responsible, and what will be done to hold them accountable and fix the problems."

The VA inspector general's office, which is investigating 42 sites, previously identified VA facilities in Phoenix, San Antonio and Fort Collins, Colo., as the subject of its review, but has declined to identify others.

"I think every member of Congress is going to be looking at their local VA centers and wanting to know the truth on what's happening in their own communities," Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Turlock) said during a congressional hearing on the VA last week.

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