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Md. Senators Focus On Wait Times At Baltimore’s VA Medical Center

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Alex DeMetrick 370x278 Alex DeMetrick
Alex DeMetrick has been a general assignment reporter with WJZ...
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BALTIMORE, Md. (WJZ) — The scandals that rocked the Veterans Administration medical system brought a closer look from Maryland’s two senators.

Alex DeMetrick reports the focus of that attention is the wait times for care.

At Baltimore’s VA Medical Center, it’s a standard complaint.

“Long waits. Long waits in the emergency room. Long waits for clinics. Long waits for specialty clinics,” said VA patient Brian Oliver.

In a tour of the hospital, Maryland Senators Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin acknowledged it’s worse for first-time patients.

“The bad news is there’s a waiting time, a waiting list for new patients coming into the VA system,” said Mikulski.

“As a result of resources now being made available, that wait time, we hope, will be kept at a minimum,” said Cardin.

The federal government is committing $58 billion to the VA medical system. It’s a $2 billion increase over last year with $500 million earmarked to hire primary care doctors.

Audits did not find the kind of recording frauds in Baltimore that were found in other VA hospitals.

Cardin and Mikulski say vets they talked with liked the medical care but not the bureaucracy.

“Which is a lot of red tape to bring the new people on. So we’re going to cut the red tape,” Mikulski said.

Cutting that bureaucratic red tape can’t come soon enough for veterans.

“The administration system is an absolute jumble. Close to chaos. Nobody knows exactly how anything works. It’s like the telephone company. They really don’t know how all the wires come together. They call it the machine. This is a machine,” said VA patient Elliott Gage.

If a VA facility cannot provide timely care, a bill has passed the Senate that would move patients into the private sector for treatment.

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