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U.S. veterans agency employees falsified data to hide delays: USA Today

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[August 01, 2014]  WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Employees at more than 100 medical centers run by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs falsified appointment data and hid evidence of delayed medical care, according to a USA Today analysis of government data.

Some 109 VA medical centers distorted data on the length of time veterans had to wait before receiving medical care, while 110 kept separate, secret records of the delays, the USA Today analysis of a VA internal audit found.

The VA on Tuesday said it was recommending disciplinary action against six employees involved in data manipulation at VA centers in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and Fort Collins, Colorado.

"Employees who have been found to have manipulated data, withheld accurate information from their supervisors, and affected the timeliness of care veterans receive do not reflect VA's values, and their actions will not be tolerated," Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson said in a statement on Tuesday.

The VA's "Nationwide Access Audit," released in June, was commissioned to investigate allegations that the department had covered up delays in veterans' medical treatment. It examined scheduling practices at over 700 VA facilities.

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Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned at the end of May over the veterans healthcare delay scandal. He is being replaced by Bob McDonald, 61, a former Procter & Gamble Co chief executive whose nomination was confirmed this week.

(Reporting by Rebecca Elliott; Editing by Sandra Maler and Jim Loney)

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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