KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City VA Medical Center says reports of a "secret wait list" involving military veterans aren't true. It released a statement on Friday stating that both Congressman Emmanuel Cleaver II and U.S. Senator Pat Roberts were briefed about the reports and told they were erroneous in nature.
The statement goes on to say that some veterans had return appointments delayed due to a clerical mistake and that the report of 12 veterans who waited more than 90 days for a primary care appointment were explained by either circumstance or a scheduling error.
News of the wait lists made headlines on Thursday after U.S. Senator Roy Blunt said during his weekly press call that the VA had admitted to "unauthorized" wait lists. FOX 4 reached out to Senator Blunt's office for a response to the VA's Friday statement, spokeswoman Amber Marchand pointed out that Senator Blunt referred to the lists as "unauthorized" but not "secret" and gave this statement:
"Senator Blunt's office learned from officials at the KC VAMC yesterday that the cardiology clinic had an 'unauthorized list' of 37 veterans. The Senator expressed his concerns, and he understands from the KC VAMC that officials have worked to get appointments for the veterans who were impacted."
Kansas City VA Medical Center Statement released on Friday:
Over the last two days, the leadership of the Kansas City VA Medical Center has met separately with both Congressman Cleaver and Senator Pat Roberts to report on Veteran access and address concerns raised recently in the media. They were briefed on the extensive efforts made by the Kansas City VA Medical Center staff to provide timely and high quality care.
Specifically, Congressman Cleaver and Senator Roberts were briefed on the erroneous reports of a “secret wait list” at the Kansas City VA Medical Center. The incident reported involves a situation in which Veteran appointments were delayed in being scheduled for a return visit due to a serious clerical mistake. All of these Veterans were established patients already receiving care at the Kansas City VA Medical Center and this in no way reflects a list of Veterans being denied care due to a lack of capacity.
In addition, they were briefed on reports of twelve Veterans who are waiting more than 90 days for a primary care appointment. Five of these individuals are Veterans already receiving primary care, but were awaiting acupuncture. Appointments were either moved forward for these individuals or the acupuncture care moved into the community. The remainder of the individuals represent scheduling errors, Veterans who wished to have a date beyond 90 days, or individuals who are not seeking primary care.
The Kansas City VA is responsible for the care of approximately 48, 000 Veterans in the Kansas City area. It is a tertiary care center able to provide the full range of medical services from complex neurosurgery to long term housing for homeless Veterans. It is a long established process of the facility to regularly review access to the many different levels of care offered. When there are concerns of demand exceeding capacity, then the facility will make adjustments by either adding capacity or sending the care into the community. Our mission is to serve our Veterans and the approximately 1500 staff at the facility are joined in this singular purpose each day as they proudly serve our Nation’s Heroes.