The scandal that led to the resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki continues to reverberate for current employees. (Rob Curtis/Staff / Times New Service)
Employees at the Veterans Affairs Department who were involved in the manipulation of patient wait lists would have to pay back their bonuses, under legislation introduced by a pair of senators July 2.
Widespread reports of falsified wait lists and improper scheduling practices has sparked an inspector general investigation, the resignation of former VA secretary Eric Shinseki and a flurry of legislation that would make it easier to fire senior management and reform the VA health care system.
The VA used wait time metrics as a factor in determining employee bonuses, which gave employees to falsify wait lists to artificially inflate their compliance and maximize payouts, according to Sens. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H.
“I’m pleased this bipartisan legislation will hold responsible any VA employee found to have cooked the books on wait times, and will help us quickly recover bonuses and raises paid to those fraudsters with taxpayer dollars,” McCaskill said in a press release “And I’ll continue holding the agency accountable and demanding VA leadership comply with all recommendations issued in the Inspector General’s interim report.”
The legislation requires the secretary of the VA to require employees to pay back all bonuses since 2011 if they are found to have contributed to the falsification and manipulation of wait lists. Managers and supervisors of those employees must also pay back bonuses if they reasonably should have known of the wait list falsifications.
“It’s outrageous that employees who deliberately manipulated wait lists received bonus pay, and they must be held fully accountable for their misconduct—starting with repaying the funds they wrongly received,” Ayotte said in a press release.