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Senator Ernst Calls for Answers over Iowa City VA “Ghost Panels”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) today sent letters to Network Director for the VA Midwest Health Care Network Janet Murphy and Iowa City VA Health Care System Director Judith Johnson-Mekota calling for answers following the release of a VA Office of Inspector General’s report that found that the Iowa City VA assigned patients to “ghost panels”, or primary care providers who are no longer employed with the VA, which is in violation of Veterans Health Administration policy.

Specifically, the report found that the Iowa City VA Health Care System assigned 1,245 active patients to “ghost panels”.

As Senator Ernst wrote to Directors Murphy and Johnson-Mekota, “I cannot emphasize enough how upsetting it is that of the many primary care providers in the VISN 23 region, the Iowa City VA HCS would participate in the abhorrent practice of ‘ghost panels’. While the report does not say that any of the 1,245 veterans were denied timely care, this raises red flags that they may have been placed outside of the system that allows for accurate and honest measures of wait times.”

Senator Ernst requested a concrete plan of action describing exactly how and when these 1,245 veterans will be re-assigned or re-distributed to quality care providers. These veterans deserve to know whether they were assigned to primary care providers who do not even work at the VA, and I request that these servicemembers be notified immediately of their status of care.”

Click here to read the full letter to Director Murphy and here to read the full letter to Director Johnson-Mekota.