WASHINGTON, D.C. – Amid “alarming” allegations of misconduct within the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System (CAVHCS), U.S. Representative Martha Roby (AL-2) is seeking employee records, medical care data, and financial information from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
In a letter to Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs Sloan Gibson, Rep. Roby said news reports and government investigations revealing troublesome practices within CAVHCS are consistent with the many stories she has received from veterans, veteran family members, or those with knowledge of happenings within the Central Alabama VA.
“The detail and plausibility of the information we have received from independent sources is alarming,” Rep. Roby writes. “In addition, the recent report from the U.S. Office of Special Counsel and the extensive information released by Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) only heighten my concern that a pattern of neglect and mismanagement within the VA, and in particular at CAVHCS, has put my veteran constituents at risk.”
Last week the U.S. Office of Special Counsel revealed that a Montgomery-based VA pulmonologist manipulated at least 1,200 records to show tests that never occurred. Also last week, U.S. Senator Tom Coburn released an extensive study showing that more than 1,000 veterans may have died as a result of VA hospital mismanagement or neglect since 2001.
Information requested includes records for employee terminations, employee bonuses, physician personnel lists, medical treatment data, financial statements, and records for certain procedures such as X-RAY tests.
Rep. Roby acknowledges in her letter that the VA has a reputation for being “evasive,” a problem she experienced first hand locally and at the federal level. Hoping that reputation could be “reversed,” Rep. Roby pledged to work with Acting Secretary Gibson as a Member of the House Appropriations subcommittee charged with overseeing veterans spending.
"Your designation as Acting Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs comes with a responsibility to lead this important agency through some of its darkest days. I stand ready to work with you to make the changes necessary to ensure our veterans get the care they deserve.”
The full text of Rep. Roby’s letter is below.
July 1, 2014
The Honorable Sloan Gibson
Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
810 Vermont Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20420-0001
Dear Mr. Gibson,
Reports continue to surface that reveal a pattern of health care service problems at Department of Veterans' Affairs (VA) facilities across the country. My office, like others, has been inundated with correspondence from veterans and family members, VA employees, and concerned constituents. Specifically, individuals contacting my office are deeply troubled about the quality of care provided to veteran patients at the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System (CAVHCS).
Government investigations and independent news reports have revealed particularly troubling problems at CAVHCS. These problems include some of the longest wait times for medical services in the country, particularly for veterans seeking critical mental health care. Additionally, there have been multiple reports regarding the falsification of records, both in the scheduling process and in medical treatment.
These reports are consistent with the experiences described in correspondence coming into my office. The detail and plausibility of the information we have received from independent sources is alarming. In addition, the recent report from the U.S. Office of Special Counsel and the extensive information released by Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) only heighten my concern that a pattern of neglect and mismanagement within the VA, and in particular at CAVHCS, has put my veteran constituents at risk.
My office continues to look into a number of these allegations. With that in mind, I write today seeking records and data that will inform my decision making as a Member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Constructions and Veterans Affairs.
As you are no doubt aware, the VA has a reputation on Capitol Hill and beyond for being evasive. I have personally experienced this both at the secretary level here in Washington and at the director level with CAVHCS. If a Member of Congress cannot get straight answers from the VA, imagine what veterans and their families go through every day in trying to get assistance. I sincerely hope this reputation can be reversed.
Accordingly, please provide me with the following information:
A list of each CAVHCS employee terminated from January 1, 2011 to present and the stated reason for each termination.
The text and appropriate citation of any and all VA or CAVHCS policies addressing nepotism.
A list of each CAVHCS employee that received a monetary bonus in 2011, 2012, and 2013. (Please include the employee's name, title, amount, type of bonus, and the stated justification for such bonus.)
A list of all (full-time, part-time, and contract) physicians currently providing services to patients in CAVHCS. (Please include the physician's names and areas of practice, and denote any and all board certifications he or she currently maintains.)
A list of all contract physicians utilized by CAVHCS in 2011, 2012, and 2013, to include their names and compensation.
A list of the number of patients seen by each CAVHCS primary care provider for 2011, 2012, and 2013. (Please provide the data broken down by month and please also indicate at which CAVHCS facility the care was provided. Please exclude specific patient/medical information.)
A list of all surgeries conducted by full time CAVHCS personnel in any and all CAVHCS facilities in 2011, 2012, and 2013. (Please annotate the surgeries by month and type. Please exclude specific patient/medical information.)
A list of all surgeries conducted by outsourced/contract surgeons in CAVHCS facilities in 2011, 2012, and 2013. (Please annotate the surgeries by month and type. Please exclude specific patient/medical information.)
A list of all autopsies conducted per month by CAVHCS personnel in 2011, 2012, and 2013. Indicate the name and title of all personnel conducting autopsies during this time. (Please exclude specific patient/medical information.)
The total number of CAVHCS patients that were referred to local hospitals for x-rays during 2011, 2012, and 2013.
A copy of any and all investigations, internal or otherwise, regarding x-rays not being read in a timely fashion during 2011, 2012, and 2013.
A list of any and all contracts with third party providers of medical care for CAVHCS patients during 2011, 2012, and 2013. Please include any support documentation to indicate the "medical standard of care" to be performed by the third party providers.
A description of any and all investigations or other methods of official inquiry conducted by the VA's Office of Inspector General concerning the deaths occurring in CAVHCS facilities, including Intensive Care Units (ICU), in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013, and a copy of any and all officials reports that were the product of those investigations or inquiries.
A copy of any and all Administrative Investigation Board (AIB) reports regarding any element of CAVHCS produced in 2011, 2012, and 2013.
A listing and brief explanation of all payments made by the VA resulting from the settlement of litigation resulting from medical care provided by CAVHCS, its employees or agents, in 2011, 2012, and 2013.