Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson visits Phoenix VA hospital

PHOENIX - Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson says 18 veterans who were kept off official Veterans Affairs waiting lists in the Phoenix area have died.

But he said he does not know if the deaths were related to having to wait a long time to see a doctor. Gibson said the 18 veterans were among 1,700 in the Phoenix area who a report found were not on official medical center waiting lists.

Gibson also said he is not sure if the 18 veterans are among the 40 veterans a retired doctor claimed may have died while awaiting treatment in the Phoenix area.

The VA has reached out to the 1,700 veterans not on the official lists and several hundred have been scheduled for appointments.

The agency will release nationwide data on patient wait times Monday.

Gibson says the agency will make changes to improve care for veterans, including using more purchased care, especially in rural areas.

Gibson also said eligibility for senior executive bonuses for 2014 have been eliminated.

Gibson spoke Thursday at the Carl T. Hayden VA Medical Center in Phoenix.

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