VA reports decrease in number of appointments at VA Maine HCS health facility in Augusta in August


The VA Maine Health Care System, subsidiary 402 in Augusta, Maine scheduled 37,901 pending appointments in August compared to 38,006 the previous month, according to data collected from the U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs.

Of the total number of appointments, 34,664 had a wait time of 30 days or less (91.5%) and 3,237 appointments (8.5%) 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.

VA Maine Health Care System Appointments Scheduled in August vs. July

Facility Code
Location
Total Appointments Scheduled in August
Total Appointments Scheduled in July
Percent change in number of appointments
402
Togus, ME
37,901
38,006
-0.3%
402GA
Caribou, ME
911
887
2.7%
402GB
Calais, ME
331
343
-3.5%
402GC
Rumford, ME
527
531
-0.8%
402GD
Saco, ME
1,702
1,940
-12.3%
402GE
Lewiston, ME
3,552
3,215
10.5%
402GF
Lincoln, ME
351
377
-6.9%
402HB
Bangor, ME
12,449
12,599
-1.2%
402HC
Portland, ME
3,108
2,938
5.8%
402HL
Bingham, ME - Mobile
270
290
-6.9%
402QA
Fort Kent, ME
22
24
-8.3%
402QB
Houlton, ME
6
12
-50%

Source: U.S. Veteran's Administration

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