RPT: Obama Admin Warned of VA Problems in '08 and Did Nothing
There are stunning new developments in the Department of Veterans Affairs scandal. The Obama administration’s transition team reportedly received warnings in 2008 that there were problems that needed to be addressed at VA hospitals, and did nothing to stop it.
In recent weeks, Fox News has reported that more than 40 veterans died waiting for appointments at the Phoenix VA Medical Center. Amid shocking allegations of a “secret waiting list” for vets, three VA officials were put on administrative leave. Just last Friday, VA Under Secretary for Health Dr. Robert Petzel resigned.
The Washington Times reported that more than five years ago, President Obama's team was told not to trust the wait times at hospitals:
“This is not only a data integrity issue in which [Veterans Health Administration] reports unreliable performance data; it affects quality of care by delaying — and potentially denying — deserving veterans timely care,” the officials wrote.
The briefing materials, obtained by The Washington Times through the Freedom of Information Act, make clear that the problems existed well before Mr. Obama took office, dating back at least to the Bush administration. But the materials raise questions about what actions the department took since 2009 to remedy the problems.
On CBS’s “Face The Nation,” American Legion National Commander Dan Dellinger called on President Obama to make a public statement to show the VA that this needs to change immediately. “One death is tragic,” he said, “but when you hide it, that’s unforgiveable.”
Martha MacCallum spoke to Congressman Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill), who served as a pilot in the Air Force, on America's Newsroom. He believes the VA’s actions have gone from incompetent to potentially criminal neglect.
Kinzinger said the top priority for the president of the United States is to protect and defend the country, and that starts with helping members of the military.
“If you learn early on there’s a problem with the VA, there’s an issue with backlogs […] the answer is not to allow bureaucrats to create fake waiting lists so that it looks better. The answer is to get in and fix the problem.”
He called for VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to step down. “A CEO of a company would never survive under these circumstances.”
White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough said in an interview, “The president is madder than hell. […] At the same time that we’re looking at accountability, we want to continue to perform to provide our veterans the services that they have earned.”
Kinzinger said President Obama has continuously avoided taking leadership on this issue. He called for “huge shakeups” similar to what happened at Walter Reed, where several officials were fired.
“As a veteran myself and as a grandson of a guy who fought in World War II, [it] angers me. And so when you go to I’m more concerned for my job than I am for the healthcare of these veterans, that’s not incompetence, that’s criminal,” he said, adding that those responsible should be prosecuted and thrown in jail.
Here's the latest on the VA waiting list scandal from Fox News: