Things aren’t getting better for veterans at the worst Veterans Affairs hospitals in the country.
The VA released its annual report ranking 146 of its medical centers on a scale of one to five stars. Despite promises to improve care for the men and women who put their lives on the line for our country, more than a dozen hospitals received one-star rankings two years in a row.
The hospitals with back-to-back one-star rankings included:
- The Phoenix VA hospital at the center of the secret waitlist scandal in 2014.
- The Memphis VA hospital a former employee described as a “house of horrors.”
- The El Paso VA hospital with some of the worst wait times and lowest patient satisfaction in the country.
Nearly as many hospitals had their ratings drop as had their ratings improve, leaving thousands of veterans without access to quality health care.
Not the whole story
Veterans who use some of the higher-rated VA hospitals are still not getting the quality of care they deserve.
- The Manchester, N.H. VA hospital’s ranking increased from three to four stars, despite an explosive Boston Globe investigation that uncovered filthy surgical equipment, fly-infested operating rooms and botched surgeries.
- A West Virginia VA hospital saw its ranking drop from four to three stars despite the discovery of years of manipulated wait times.
- An investigation into the then five-star-ranked Cincinnati VA hospital found surgical equipment was arriving in operating rooms filthy, with one whistleblower describing bone fragments on the tools. They received four stars in the 2017 review.
No matter how well VA hospitals are ranked, many are still failing veterans.
Hiding the Ratings from Vets
The VA kept these rankings secret from the veterans it was serving until USA Today uncovered the lists and published them last year. When VA Secretary David Shulkin took over the department, he said he would make the ratings public each year to improve transparency.
Unless veterans are free to choose where they get their health care, these rankings will remind veterans of how badly the system they’re trapped in treats them. It’s time to give veterans the ability to choose the doctors they need. Click here to tell Congress it’s time to expand VA choice.