Veterans waited an average of 115 days for their first appointment at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Phoenix, Arizona – three months longer than hospital workers originally admitted. That’s according to a preliminary report the Department of Veterans Affairs released on the results of an internal investigation. The report also confirmed that the hospital used secret waiting lists to hide delays in treating as many as 1,700 vets.

At least 40 people died waiting for care at the Phoenix VA Medical Center. It also found that schemes to hide the wait times are systemic at VA hospitals across the country. The VA is investigating accusations of mismanagement at more than two dozen medical centers.

President Obama has stood by Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki despite calls for his resignation.

Shinseki said in a statement:

“I respect the independent review and recommendations of the Office of Inspector General (OIG) regarding systemic issues with patient scheduling and access. I have reviewed the interim report, and the findings are reprehensible to me, to this Department, and to Veterans.  I am directing that the Phoenix VA Health Care System (VAHCS) immediately triage each of the 1,700 Veterans identified by the OIG to bring them timely care.

“I have already placed the Phoenix VAHCS leadership on administrative leave, and have directed an independent site team to assess scheduling and administrative practices at the Phoenix VAHCS. This team began their work in April, and we are already taking action on multiple recommendations from this report.

“We will aggressively and fully implement the remaining OIG recommendations to ensure that we contact every single Veteran identified by the OIG.   I have directed the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) to complete a nation-wide access review to ensure a full understanding of VA’s policy and continued integrity in managing patient access to care.  Further, we are accelerating access to care throughout our system and in communities where Veterans reside. 

“It is important to allow OIG’s independent and objective review to proceed until completion.  OIG has requested that VA take no additional personnel actions in Phoenix until their review is complete.”

This afternoon, Arizona Sen. John McCain (R) said the situation at the Phoenix VA hospital is “disturbing.” He called on Shinseki to step down and if he refuses, McCain said President Obama should fire him.”

Judge Andrew Napolitano reacted to the IG report on Shepard Smith Reporting, and said it seems clear that criminal activity occurred.

“The intentional falsifying of information on a document that the federal government requires you to prepare is standing alone a crime, even if no one is harmed as a result of it,” Judge Napolitano said.

He continued, “So add to it the probable falsification of documents the fact that human beings died as a result of this, and now you go from filing false reports for the federal government to criminally negligent homicide caused as a result of these false reports.”