Most Americans are following the wait times scandal at Veterans Affairs facilities, but they don’t have a clear solution to the problem, a poll released Thursday found.
Almost 70 percent of those polled are following the scandal “very closely” or “somewhat closely,” a Gallup poll said. That’s higher than the average 60 percent that have followed other major news events since 1991, but lower than the awareness of 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and the Newtown school shooting.
The lengthy wait times and manipulation of data at the VA came to light this spring when a whistleblower at the Phoenix VA said at least 40 veterans died while awaiting care on an unofficial wait list used to hide wait times.
Since then, several reports have found that the problem is widespread, with more than 57,000 vets waiting more than 90 days for care and about 70 percent of VA facilities using an unofficial wait list.
While the large majority of Americans are keeping track of this issue, they don’t have a clear solution, the poll found. The top answer at 20 percent was “no opinion.” The most population solution with only 16 percent of respondents supporting it was “provide better care in a more timely manner.”
Just 9 percent of those polled support allowing veterans seek care outside the VA, which is part of separate bills that passed in both the House and Senate this week. Committee leaders in both chambers are hopeful they can work out a compromise to send to the president soon.
Other solutions include firing staff at the VA, more funding, more staff and eliminating bonuses. Just 3 percent wanted to completely privatize veterans healthcare, which most veterans service organizations are against.
Veterans groups have called on the president to be more aggressive and more visible on this issue, and the American people agree. Just 29 percent approve of President Obama’s handling of the VA situation, with 63 percent disapproving.
The poll comes from telephone interviews with more than 1,000 adults across the country on June 5-8. The margin of error is 4 percent.