What do you think is the significance of the Veterans Administration scandal, in which VA hospitals took so long to extend care that some 40 veterans died? Also that the hospitals systematically covered up the wait times? Is this an example of administrative incompetence, an overloaded system, the failures of large bureaucracies, or what happens when the government is in charge of health care? Or is this scandal an overblown political ploy?
Veterans Affairs’ inspector general is looking into allegations by a former Phoenix clinic director that up to 40 veterans died while waiting for treatment at a VA hospital while staffers disguised the wait times that patients faced. The inspector general told a Senate hearing last week that his initial probe has found no evidence that delays caused the deaths. Shinseki is conducting his own review with the help of Nabors.
A handful of Republicans, including Sens. John Cornyn (Tex.) and Jerry Moran (Kan.), have called for Shinseki’s ouster, and other GOP lawmakers are questioning the administration’s response to the allegations.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said Tuesday that he was “disturbed” by reports suggesting that Obama first learned of the allegations against Veterans Affairs through news reports. “It is time for our president to come forward and take responsibility for this and do the right thing by these veterans and begin to show that he actually cares about getting it straight,” Cantor said.
House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) also complained Tuesday about VA’s response to a committee subpoena, saying the department provided copies of only about 200 e-mails from one senior official. He said the response “makes me suspicious that the department has something to hide.”
Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) — an Iraq war veteran, double amputee and former VA assistant secretary — said in an interview that the allegations are similar to problems she faced at the department from 2009 to 2011. “I’m not surprised, because it’s such a large network that you’re going to find problems,” Duckworth said. But she expressed support for Shinseki and said he should not resign. “I think he should fix it,” she said. “I’m not trying to put words in his mouth here, but I would think that he would want to fix it.”