VA reports increase in number of appointments at Tuscaloosa VAMC facilities in August 2019

The Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center scheduled 19,478 pending appointments across its three locations in August 2019 compared to 19,068 the same month last year, according to data collected from the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs.

Of the total number of appointments in August 2019, 18,237 had a wait time of 30 days or less (93.6%) and 1,241 appointments (6.4%) were scheduled more than 30 days out.

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in January 2019 reported that wait times for new appointments at VA health care facilities were similar to or better than wait times at private-sector providers between 2014 and 2017.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO), however, released a report in July 2019 that cautioned that the VA’s data-tracking system only captures part of the appointment process and fails to account for the time that it takes the VA to enroll veterans in its health benefits program.

At a hearing before the House Veterans Affairs Committee after the report was released, Debra Draper, health care director at the GAO, said new patients may actually wait up to 70 days for an appointment when they first enroll for benefits.

The VA explains on its website that when veterans apply for benefits, they are assigned to one of eight priority groups, with those who need immediate care due to service-related disabilities placed in higher priority groups. Veterans who don’t have service-connected disabilities and who earn a higher income are placed in the lower priority groups.

Tuscaloosa VAMC Appointments Scheduled in August 2019 vs. August 2018
Location
Total Appointments Scheduled in August 2019
Total Appointments Scheduled in August 2018
Percent change in number of appointments
Tuscaloosa
18,976
18,795
1%
Selma
221
66
234.8%
Tuscaloosa
281
206
36.4%
Source: U.S. Veteran’s Administration

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