“I love the VA and would never work in the private system again,” said one provider. “I used to spend an hour or two a day on the phone with private insurance companies or writing letters to them… [At the VA] it’s not about making a buck.” (The agency tries to rein in press contact, so some providers asked us not to use their names.)
The real solutions to the agency’s problems may sound familiar. The VA needs to hire more frontline staff, fewer managers. It needs to update an antiquated computerized scheduling system, expand facilities where need is growing, and reduce missed appointments by offering rides.
It needs to use data such as wait time statistics as tools for improvement, not bludgeons. And it needs to act on feedback from concerned workers, instead of squelching it.