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Warnings on 'gaming' patient waits go back years

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The latest report about problems at the VA that led to Secretary Eric Shinseki's resignation is hardly the first independent review that documented long wait times for some patients seeking health care from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Eleven years ago, a task force established by President George W. Bush determined that at least 236,000 veterans were on a waiting list of six months or more for a first appointment or an initial follow-up.

Subsequent inspector general reports also shed light on the problem. For at least seven years, independent government investigators have been telling Congress about VA officials `gaming' appointment schedules to hide delays in treating veterans.

While some lawmakers say inadequate funding is the root of the problem, others put the blame on VA mismanagement.

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