In a new revelation about the growing VA scandal, the organization’s acting secretary said Thursday that an additional 18 veterans whose names were kept off an electronic medical appointment list died while awaiting appointments.

Acting Secretary Sloan Gibson said he would ask the inspector general to see whether there is any evidence those deaths were related to long wait times. If that is revealed to be the case, Gibson said he would “come personally and apologize to the survivors.” The 18 new deaths are in addition to the 17 reported last month.

The Associated Press reports:

Gibson’s remarks during a visit to Phoenix were the latest related to the scandal over long patient waits for care and falsified records covering up the delays at VA hospitals and clinics nationwide.

Gibson’s announcement came as senior senators reached agreement Thursday on the framework for a bipartisan bill making it easier for veterans to get health care outside VA hospitals and clinics.

The 18 veterans who died were among 1,700 veterans identified in a report last week by the VA’s inspector general as being “at risk of being lost or forgotten. The investigation also found broad and deep-seated problems with delays in patient care and manipulation of waiting lists throughout the sprawling VA health care system, which provides medical care to about 9 million veterans and family members.

Read more here.

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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