Sept. 29 (UPI) -- The report also found that few VA medical centers have the recommended number of staff for the community care program and the GAO recommends that VA leadership assess its community care staffing and resource needs and develop a plan to address any identified risks to their ability to schedule timely appointments.
This week's report recommends that Congress require the VA to establish minimum wait-time standards and that the Under Secretary of Health conduct a review of community provider enrollment to remove challenges to community provider enrollment and use.
The GAO had previously recommended the VA develop a minimum wait-time standard in 2013 for community-care programs and reiterated that recommendation in 2018.
The community care program was created in 2018 under the VA Mission Act and went into effect in 2019, expanding the VA Choice Program -- which was created after investigators discovered more than 200 veterans had died while waiting for appointments.
The GAO's report says that because the department failed to establish a maximum amount of time for waits for appointments, veterans have had to wait an indefinite amount of time for care -- making it impossible to measure the success of the VA's new community care program.
The Department of Veterans Affairs has failed to set standards that get veterans in to see private-sector doctors in a reasonable amount of time, the Government Accountability Office reported this week.