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Wisconsin Congressman Ron Kind blames lack of employees for VA delays

WASHINGTON D.C. (WTAQ) - Congressman Ron Kind says veterans' hospitals have the same problem as other hospitals -- not enough medical personnel.

The La Crosse Democrat blames a lack of access, not the quality of care, for the delays in seeing new patients at Veterans Administration facilities.

An audit released Monday showed that the average waiting time is 51 days for a new patient to see a doctor at the VA hospital in Madison -- 24 days in Milwaukee, and 17 days at Tomah. The agency's target is 14 days.

To see a specialist, the average waiting times are 50 days in Milwaukee, 41 days at Madison, and 39 in Tomah.

Scott Farley of the Tomah center said officials there are pleased with the 17 day wait for new patients -- but it's a lack of specialists that cause longer waits for more complicated things.

The audit showed that 525 Wisconsin veterans have waited more than three months to get a VA appointment. Nationally, over 57,000 veterans have waited at least 90 days to see a doctor.  

VA officials say that's not acceptable, and they're already contacting veterans to get them in faster.

A spokesman for Janesville House Republican Paul Ryan called the audit "deeply troubling," and the VA needs to be held accountable.

The new report is the first nationwide snapshot of the veterans' medical system, after reports in April that VA patients in Phoenix were dying while awaiting appointments.

(Story courtesy of Wheeler News Service)