VA reports increase in number of August appointments scheduled at VA Southern Arizona HCS health facility in Tucson


The VA Southern Arizona Health Care System, subsidiary 678 in Tucson, Arizona scheduled 69,689 pending appointments in August compared to 62,674 during the same period last year, according to data collected from the U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs.

Of the total number of appointments this August, 64,002 had a wait time of 30 days or less (91.8%) and 5,687 appointments (8.2%) 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 or better to 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 1 of 8 priority groups, with those who need immediate care due to service-related disabilities placed in higher priority groups. Veterans who do not have service-connected disabilities and who earn a higher income are placed in the lower priority groups.

VA Southern Arizona Health Care System - 678 Appointments Scheduled in August 2019 vs. August 2018

Facility Code
Location
Total Appointments Scheduled in August 2019
Total Appointments Scheduled in August 2018
Percent change in number of appointments
678
Tucson
69,689
62,674
11.2%
678GA
Sierra Vista
6,731
4,812
39.9%
678GB
Yuma
5,619
4,802
17%
678GC
Casa Grande
3,006
3,422
-12.2%
678GD
Safford
434
358
21.2%
678GE
Green Valley
624
1,412
-55.8%
678GF
Tucson
5,061
4,721
7.2%
678GG
Tucson
4,081
3,190
27.9%
Source: U.S. Veteran's Administration

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