Are dead veterans apparently canceling their own appointments? That's what one insider says is happening at the Phoenix VA.
That whistleblower is providing screen grabs of numbers that he says prove that hundreds of appointments that were more than 120 days past due to be scheduled were deleted from the system. That means many are still waiting to be seen and might not even realize they're no longer in the system.
"Obviously, if you're deceased you're not going to call the clinic and cancel your own appointment," said Kuauhtemoc Rodriguez, Chief of Specialty Care Clinics at the Phoenix VA.
[READ MORE: Special section: VA hospital troubles]
He is making a startling accusation about alleged appointment deletion fraud happening at the VA.
"Just within this past year the facility here in Phoenix has canceled over 700 appointments for dead veterans that are listed as canceled by patient," he said.
The manager says he first noticed employees were gaming the system about a year ago and he sent those concerns all the way to the Office of Inspector General and says ever since, he's been retaliated against. He even received a letter to cease and desist.
"So they did the exact opposite of what they're supposed to do which is to go out and be impartial and create an investigation and determine what is really going on," he said.
I brought his concerns to Arizona Senator John McCain this week.
"It shows that we have an enormous amount of work to be done and this information that you're bringing to me should be referred directly to the Department of Justice because clearly that is criminal behavior," said Sen. McCain. "It would be refreshing if the Justice Department actually did take some action to resolve these issues because they're not going away. Our veterans are dying. They're suffering and it's not right," said Rodriguez.
Rodriguez says nothing has been done to address the unauthorized behavior of employees deleting dead patient and living one's appointments. Even after he told Director Deborah Amdur about it, the mysterious cancellations continued, he said.
I reached out to the VA Public Affairs Office for comment on these allegations but have yet to hear back. Meantime, Sen. McCain's office is working on drafting a letter to the Justice Department.
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