Abandon ship: Senate Dems Udall, Walsh say Shineski must go after brutal VA IG report

posted at 6:01 pm on May 28, 2014 by Allahpundit

Consider this an open thread for following other Democratic defections, of which I assume there’ll be more before the end of the day. Mark Udall was the first to lower the boom:

John Walsh, who was appointed a few months ago after Max Baucus left the Senate to become ambassador to China, followed Udall by calling for Shinseki’s firing later this afternoon. What do those two guys have in common? Right — they’re both facing the voters in November with a very real chance of losing. Walsh trails by double digits in deep-red Montana and Udall’s clinging to a narrow lead against a strong challenger in Cory Gardner in purplish Colorado. What you’re seeing here, simply, is two vulnerable incumbents deciding after today’s IG report that Shinseki is irredeemably radioactive. More will follow. The next to fall, presumably, is Mark Pryor, who not only has the same reelection problem as Udall and Walsh but who’s facing a Republican in Tom Cotton who’s a veteran himself. The Cotton attack ad writes itself: “When I got home from Iraq, I trusted that the VA would be there for me and my friends. That trust has been betrayed. And Mark Pryor’s done nothing about it.” Pryor knows it’s coming too, which is why he signed on as a co-sponsor of Marco Rubio’s VA Accountability bill this afternoon. He’ll drop the hammer on Shinseki soon enough. And by “soon enough,” I mean “possibly before dinner.”

For what it’s worth, after more than five years of inaction, this is suddenly a very high priority for Shinseki:

“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.

A White House spokesman this afternoon told the press that Denis McDonough briefed Obama on the IG report and that The One found it “extremely troubling” — again, a good five years too late. Remember, by the IG’s own count, no fewer than 18 reports about problems in VA scheduling have been issued by their office since 2005. Obama campaigned on fixing the problem. And today he’s “troubled.”

Exit question: Let’s start a pool. What time does Pryor abandon ship? Specify your answer to the exact minute, please.

Update: Annnnnd no sooner did I set this post to publish than Ed pinged me with news of a new Democratic defection. Kay Hagan, another weak red-state incumbent in deep trouble this fall, heads for the lifeboats:

Update: Most House Democrats are sticking with O so far, but not all:


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Comment pages: 1 2 3

Oh gawd,

Sheila Jackson Lee is up to bat!!!

canopfor on May 28, 2014 at 9:48 PM

She’s not on this committee–she’s there as a *ahem!* guest! Dang, she must REALLY be in trouble back in Houston!!

Newtie and the Beauty on May 28, 2014 at 9:53 PM

Chad Pergram @ChadPergram · 39s

House Vets Affairs Cmte expected to take short break after 1st round of question at #VA scandal hearing & then continue with another round.

canopfor on May 28, 2014 at 9:53 PM

canopfor on May 28, 2014 at 9:48 PM

She’s not on this committee–she’s there as a *ahem!* guest! Dang, she must REALLY be in trouble back in Houston!!

Newtie and the Beauty on May 28, 2014 at 9:53 PM

NATB: I thought she was going to go into ballistic mode, and
attack,….:0

https://twitter.com/RepWalorski

canopfor on May 28, 2014 at 9:58 PM

Speaking of Clashs:

Ukraine, Russia political crisis
5m
Russian, Ukrainian ambassadors clash in UN Security Council over surge of violence in Ukraine’s east – @AP
Read more on bigstory.ap.org

https://twitter.com/AP

canopfor on May 28, 2014 at 9:59 PM

Well, now they’re taking a wee wee pause for a wee wee cause…

Any bets on who does NOT come back to be grilled?

Newtie and the Beauty on May 28, 2014 at 9:59 PM

Oh gawd,

Sheila Jackson Lee is up to bat!!!

canopfor on May 28, 2014 at 9:48 PM

She will testify that Neil Armstrong, the astronaut who planted the flag on Mars, used the VA and never had a single problem.

Bishop on May 28, 2014 at 10:00 PM

****** Break Time (5 Minutes??) *******************************

canopfor on May 28, 2014 at 10:00 PM

canopfor on May 28, 2014 at 9:48 PM

She will testify that Neil Armstrong, the astronaut who planted the flag on Mars, used the VA and never had a single problem.

Bishop on May 28, 2014 at 10:00 PM

Bishop: Good Evening,…Lol:)

canopfor on May 28, 2014 at 10:01 PM

Veterans Affairs hospitals secret waiting lists allegations
1m
Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-Ind., at Veterans Affairs Committee hearing: We know less tonight. I have more questions tonight than I had when I walked in here – @ChadPergram
see original on twitter.com
===========================

Chad Pergram @ChadPergram · 1m

At #VA hrng, Rep David Jolly (R-FL) says he believes #VA scandal “goes all the way to the desk of the President of the United States.”

Replied to 0 times

Chad Pergram @ChadPergram · 27s

Rep. Walorski at #VA hrng: We know less tonight. I have more questions tonight than I had when I walked in here.

Replied to 0 times

Chad Pergram @ChadPergram · 1m

Sharp exchange between VA’s Mooney and Rep Walorski. Walorski cuts off Mooney. Mooney: May I finish? Walorski: No. I only have 5 minutes.

canopfor on May 28, 2014 at 10:02 PM

Retweeted by Frank Thorp V
NBC News @NBCNews · 1m

Live Now on @nbc: ‘Inside the Mind of Edward Snowden,’ an exclusive interview with Brian Williams

canopfor on May 28, 2014 at 10:03 PM

And were back:

canopfor on May 28, 2014 at 10:06 PM

Tick,,,,tic,,,tic,,,,,

Veterans Affairs hospitals secret waiting lists allegations
1m
Report: White House aides say President Obama still undecided on Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki – @politico
Read more on politico.com

http://www.politico.com/story/2014/05/barack-obama-undecided-on-eric-shinseki-107201.html

canopfor on May 28, 2014 at 10:07 PM

Chad Pergram @ChadPergram · 13s

House Veterans Affairs Cmte hrng on #VA restarts now.

canopfor on May 28, 2014 at 10:08 PM

Trying to decide of I should go to bed or watch the hearings.

Glad to hear they Jackie Walorski form the great state of Indiana asked some tough questions.

esr1951 on May 28, 2014 at 10:09 PM

esr1951 on May 28, 2014 at 10:09 PM

C-Span will archive it, ESR. Here’s the link:

http://www.c-span.org/video/?319594-1/va-hospital-waiting-list-records

Newtie and the Beauty on May 28, 2014 at 10:11 PM

She will testify that Neil Armstrong, the astronaut who planted the flag on Mars, used the VA and never had a single problem.

Bishop on May 28, 2014 at 10:00 PM

You’re being awfully polite…

more likely, she’ll testify she had a Hemorroid the size
of Houston on her Azz that the VA took care of.

ToddPA on May 28, 2014 at 10:11 PM

Thanks Newtie! I will watch it tomorrow.

esr1951 on May 28, 2014 at 10:13 PM

Salmon Calls for Secretary Shinseki’s Immediate Resignation and Criminal Investigation in Response to Latest VA IG Report

Washington, D.C. — Today, Rep. Matt Salmon (AZ-05) released the following statement regarding the preliminary report released by the VA Inspector General.

“When my colleagues and I set out to get answers for our veterans, we were determined to follow the facts, wherever they led. Unfortunately, those facts have revealed greater travesties than we could have imagined. Today, the Inspector General’s preliminary report revealed an additional 1,700 vets who were not on the official wait list at the Phoenix VA facility. According to the IG, “these veterans may never obtain a requested or required clinical appointment”.

I am outraged by the attitudes of those who stood in the way of providing our veterans the answers they deserved. For weeks, those who sought the truth for our nation’s veterans were accused of inventing “conspiracy theories” and “fake scandals” for the purpose of political gain. This behavior is disgusting and unacceptable. Is there anything proponents of this Administration won’t defend? This failure of leadership and lack of accountability must come to an end. Yet, this morning, as the President took the opportunity to address our military’s future leaders at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point commencement ceremony, he demonstrated his lack of commitment to our current veterans by failing to even mention this issue or his intentions to fix it for our next generation of veterans. This perpetuated the appalling acts of the Veterans Affairs staff and could appear as tacit approval of this pattern of silence. Where is the leadership, Mr. President?

While I am horrified by the IG’s findings so far, I also recognize that the first step to correcting this issue is to recognize that we have a problem. Now it is time to make it right and serve our veterans in a way that is worthy of their service to our great country.

First, it is time for Secretary Shinseki to resign his position as the head of Veterans Affairs in order to restore faith in the system. Second, I join Chairman Jeff Miller’s call for the Department of Justice to open a criminal investigation into the IG’s findings so that those who neglected our veterans are held responsible and justice is served. And third, I will turn my immediate attention to working with my colleagues to completely overhaul our veterans’ healthcare system so that those who served and sacrificed for our country receive the level and quality of care we promised them.

It is time for our nation’s leaders to lead on correcting this horrifying scandal. I am ready to do so; I hope President Obama is too.”

Rep. Matt Salmon (AZ-05) serves on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs as Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere. He is also a member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.
Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

###

http://salmon.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/salmon-calls-for-secretary-shinseki-s-immediate-resignation-and-criminal

canopfor on May 28, 2014 at 10:14 PM

Sacking Shinsaki is silliness on stilts, and will only serve to perpetuate a system which will guarantee that our vets continue to be abused.

Blame congress. Change the civil service laws that make it so hard, ne impossible to fire civil servants. That’s the only way things will change.

BLOC on May 28, 2014 at 10:14 PM

Frank Thorp V @frankthorpNBC · 18s

The House Vet. Affairs Cmte is now on its 2nd round of questions for the 3 VA officials testifying about the VA’s slow response to subpoena

canopfor on May 28, 2014 at 10:15 PM

Thanks Newtie! I will watch it tomorrow.

esr1951 on May 28, 2014 at 10:13 PM

No problem, ESR!

Newtie and the Beauty on May 28, 2014 at 10:15 PM

Leo Shane III @LeoShane · 22s

FYI: @connorobrienNH @jeremyherb @K8brannen @BryantJordan hanging in late on this VA hearing. Great to see good vets reporters on this.

canopfor on May 28, 2014 at 10:16 PM

Chad Pergram @ChadPergram · 56s

#VA’s Lynch on what went wrong at VA: We lost true north.

canopfor on May 28, 2014 at 10:17 PM

Change the civil service laws that make it so hard, ne impossible to fire civil servants. That’s the only way things will change.

BLOC on May 28, 2014 at 10:14 PM

With all due respect, BLOC, that won’t solve the problem. Decertify the Central Gubmint employees unions and forbid Central Gubmint from becoming unionized ever again.

Newtie and the Beauty on May 28, 2014 at 10:17 PM

https://twitter.com/K8brannen

Kate Brannen @K8brannen · 36m

Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fl.) says there are more than 700 lawyers at the VA.

canopfor on May 28, 2014 at 10:20 PM

Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fl.) says there are more than 700 lawyers at the VA.

canopfor on May 28, 2014 at 10:20 PM

o_O WTF 4? I mean, seriously? Are Living Wills that hard to understand?

Newtie and the Beauty on May 28, 2014 at 10:22 PM

MikeKirby ‏@mikekirbyone 3m

EXCLUSIVE: Texas VA Run Like a ‘Crime Syndicate,’ Whistleblower Says #vascandal #texasva ~ http://thebea.st/1gz3yVj
=====================================================

Politics
05.27.14
Exclusive: Texas VA Run Like a ‘Crime Syndicate,’ Whistleblower Says
For years, employees at a Texas VA complained that their bosses were cooking the books. For years, the VA insisted there was no widespread wrongdoing.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/05/27/exclusive-texas-va-run-like-a-crime-syndicate-whistleblower-says.html

canopfor on May 28, 2014 at 10:22 PM

And here’s Corinne Brown again…

Newtie and the Beauty on May 28, 2014 at 10:23 PM

canopfor on May 28, 2014 at 10:20 PM

o_O WTF 4? I mean, seriously? Are Living Wills that hard to understand?

Newtie and the Beauty on May 28, 2014 at 10:22 PM

Newtie and the Beauty: I think its to cover the incompetent ones,
I’m guessing!:)

Oh,..and yes,..WTH:)

canopfor on May 28, 2014 at 10:24 PM

Whatinell is she talking about? First, blame Bush–sure gets Shinseki off the hook…

Newtie and the Beauty on May 28, 2014 at 10:24 PM

Here we go,……………….Bush!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

—Ms.Brown

canopfor on May 28, 2014 at 10:24 PM

Whatinell is she talking about? First, blame Bush–sure gets Shinseki off the hook…

Newtie and the Beauty on May 28, 2014 at 10:24 PM

NATB: What you said,..lol,..I loved when she stopped in her tracks
—–OH!:)

canopfor on May 28, 2014 at 10:26 PM

Canopfor, got one for you!

Newtie and the Beauty on May 28, 2014 at 10:28 PM

Oh gawd,…..Ms.Brown said whats!!

canopfor on May 28, 2014 at 10:28 PM

cking Shinsaki is silliness on stilts, and will only serve to perpetuate a system which will guarantee that our vets continue to be abused. Blame congress. Change the civil service laws that make it so hard, ne impossible to fire civil servants. That’s the only way things will change. BLOC on May 28, 2014 at 10:14 PM

What.. keep him there?

No. Fire his azz.

Fire anyone that doesn’t do their job.

Vets died. From his incompentance. And hacks got bonuses for it.

That’s the system HE created.

wolly4321 on May 28, 2014 at 10:30 PM

Canopfor, got one for you!

Newtie and the Beauty on May 28, 2014 at 10:28 PM

NATB: Priceless,…..did you said it in to AP/ED?:)

canopfor on May 28, 2014 at 10:31 PM

wolly4321 on May 28, 2014 at 10:30 PM

Beggin’ to differ, Wolly, but this system was created by JFK by EO. Once JFK affixed his John Hancock to an EO that allowed Central Gubmint (CG) employees to unionize, it all stated to go downhill…

Newtie and the Beauty on May 28, 2014 at 10:33 PM

canopfor on May 28, 2014 at 10:31 PM

I can… ;-)

Newtie and the Beauty on May 28, 2014 at 10:33 PM

Boyo, the H/A Crew Members who are AWOL,……and YOU know WHO you
are,..are going to get a nasty letter,.for missing this!

(snark)

canopfor on May 28, 2014 at 10:34 PM

canopfor on May 28, 2014 at 10:31 PM

I can… ;-)

Newtie and the Beauty on May 28, 2014 at 10:33 PM

Newtie and the Beauty:Good,…I’ve sent 27 emails since 4:33PM:)

canopfor on May 28, 2014 at 10:36 PM

Newtie:

Heres an Image:)

International Space Station
4m
Photo: HD cameras now show the Soyuz craft docked to International Space Station – @NASA

https://twitter.com/NASA/status/471838283887312896/photo/1

canopfor on May 28, 2014 at 10:38 PM

They didn’t throw him under the bus on Friday, heading into a holiday long weekend. That would have been the perfect time. That tells me that, for whatever reason, they’re trying to salvage him.

bofh on May 28, 2014 at 10:38 PM

Jeremy Herb @jeremyherb · 1m

Really regretting not eating dinner before this VA hearing… #oops

canopfor on May 28, 2014 at 10:39 PM

Newtie and the Beauty:Good,…I’ve sent 27 emails since 4:33PM:)

canopfor on May 28, 2014 at 10:36 PM

And I did ;-)

Newtie and the Beauty on May 28, 2014 at 10:40 PM

They didn’t throw him under the bus on Friday, heading into a holiday long weekend. That would have been the perfect time. That tells me that, for whatever reason, they’re trying to salvage him.

bofh on May 28, 2014 at 10:38 PM

If’n the economic reports due out tomorrow are any indication, expect Shinseki to *ahem!* resign to throw off the LSM from the economic disaster that is the zero administration.

Newtie and the Beauty on May 28, 2014 at 10:41 PM

eggin’ to differ, Wolly, but this system was created by JFK by EO. Once JFK affixed his John Hancock to an EO that allowed Central Gubmint (CG) employees to unionize, it all stated to go downhill… Newtie and the Beauty on May 28, 2014 at 10:33 PM

I get your point,, but the mandate to meet shorter wait times with no plan on how created the enviroment for the fake lists in the system.

I agree gubmint unions are horrible. All of them. Dem money laundering scheme.

Shin needs to go.

wolly4321 on May 28, 2014 at 10:45 PM

canopfor on May 28, 2014 at 10:36 PM

And I did ;-)

Newtie and the Beauty on May 28, 2014 at 10:40 PM

NATB: Good,…of those, are varied International news and Domestic,
and those stories are breaking, so H/A is in the Know:)

canopfor on May 28, 2014 at 10:46 PM

wolly4321 on May 28, 2014 at 10:45 PM

Agreed, Wolly!

Newtie and the Beauty on May 28, 2014 at 10:48 PM

Leo Shane III @LeoShane · 1m

There has to be someone in there with a granola bar … RT @jeremyherb Really regretting not eating dinner before this VA hearing… #oops
=====================

Retweeted by Jeremy Herb
Devin Henry @dhenry · 3m

Tim Walz now: “The buck stops with the Secretary. That is why today, I believe it would be best if Secretary Shinseki stepped down.”

canopfor on May 28, 2014 at 10:51 PM

Newtie: Heres an Image:) International Russian Space Station 4m Photo: HD cameras now show the Soyuz craft docked to International Russian Space Station –@NASA https://twitter.com/NASA/status/ 471838283887312896/photo/1 canopfor on May 28, 2014 at 10:38 PM

FIFY

wolly4321 on May 28, 2014 at 10:53 PM

canopfor on May 28, 2014 at 10:51 PM

QOTD is up, Canopfor…usual?

Newtie and the Beauty on May 28, 2014 at 10:53 PM

Newtie,……add another Democrat:)

Chad Pergram @ChadPergram · 28s

Sen Shaeen: I am calling for Gen Shinseki’s resignation. It’s time for a forceful new leader to address the outrageous problems at the #VA

canopfor on May 28, 2014 at 10:54 PM

canopfor on May 28, 2014 at 10:51 PM

QOTD is up, Canopfor…usual?

Newtie and the Beauty on May 28, 2014 at 10:53 PM

NATB: Ya,.I’ll be here and QOTD,…I left a snark for the crew members
haha:)

canopfor on May 28, 2014 at 10:56 PM

Leo Shane III @LeoShane · 1m

With @RepTimWalz on the list, I’m now counting 17 Dems calling for Shinseki to step down, 36 GOPers. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1dqnJ4WIj1XtaqxFYgjAaOK6km4WiMogzMQ1WJMScAmY/edit#gid=0

Replied to 0 times

Leo Shane III @LeoShane · 23s

.@RepTimWalz joins chorus calling for Shinseki to resign. “It’s a shame that he and other vets were let down by people working under him.”

canopfor on May 28, 2014 at 10:58 PM

Connor O’Brien @connorobrienNH · 1m

Miller asks Mooney if it’s true that Dick Durbin has already received briefing on VA facilities in Chicago. Calls it disingenuous if true.

Chad Pergram @ChadPergram · 1m

#VA’s Lynch to Rep Kirkpatrick about the scandal “Congresswoman, I think we’ve gotten the message.”

canopfor on May 28, 2014 at 10:59 PM

Frank Thorp V @frankthorpNBC · 18s

The House Vet. Affairs Cmte is now on its 2nd round of questions for the 3 VA officials testifying about the VA’s slow response to subpoena

Jeremy Herb @jeremyherb · 1m

The VA hearing is now passing 11 p.m., 3.5 hours in

canopfor on May 28, 2014 at 11:05 PM

This is an untenable situation for obama and the left in general. This is an outright indictment of their ridiculous assertion that ‘The Government’ can run Health Care.

The very, very best thing they can do, is admit defeat right now, and pray the low-info tards that put obama in place twice, forget about this disaster prior to November. Bank it: barry is on the phone with his good buddy ‘Ric’ right now, telling him to commit seppuku first thing tomorrow morning.

Then the complicit leftist media will breeze past this, perhaps back to that missing flight MH370, and everyone will be back at Starbucks blaming Bush by Monday, latest.

a5minmajor on May 28, 2014 at 11:06 PM

Warren Armstrong ‏@warmstrongabc30 4m

NEW: MT @RepJeffDenham calls for VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign. http://1.usa.gov/1hfaojq #VAScandal @ABC30

https://twitter.com/RepJeffDenham

canopfor on May 28, 2014 at 11:26 PM

ITS OVER!!!!

canopfor on May 28, 2014 at 11:34 PM

Chad Pergram @ChadPergram · 22s

House #VA hearing ends after 4 hours and 36 minutes of testimony.

canopfor on May 28, 2014 at 11:38 PM

United States Department of Veterans Affairs
3m
House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing ends after 4 hours and 36 minutes of testimony – @ChadPergram

http://www.breakingnews.com/topic/phoenix-veterans-hospital-investigated/

canopfor on May 28, 2014 at 11:41 PM

So, now you know how the Reservation Health Care operation has been for 100 years.

What goes around comes around.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on May 28, 2014 at 11:45 PM

How about the lawyer lady, makes you feel safe and secure uh?

APACHEWHOKNOWS on May 28, 2014 at 11:46 PM

Keep this in you little brains Americans, this Lynch guy thinks a 90 day time to get a Dr.’s appointment is just fine and dandy.

90 Days…… all good according to Dr. Death.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on May 28, 2014 at 11:50 PM

Well sort of 90 days,,,, you have to have your records checked

you know “let us see your papers” ,,, and if you qual-i-fy,,,,

then you get on the list,, if your approved to be on the list….

got it……..”if” that real big two letter word…

APACHEWHOKNOWS on May 28, 2014 at 11:53 PM

You get care if we want you to have care.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on May 29, 2014 at 12:03 AM

He would resign, but there’s a waiting-list.

Obama has a parade of incompetents that he does not know how to fire, still less direct.

virgo on May 29, 2014 at 3:06 AM

VA Legal Alert:

Veterans Affairs hospitals secret waiting lists allegations
United States Department of Justice
3h
House votes to fund Justice Department investigation of alleged mismanagement of Department of Veterans Affairs facilities – @thehill
Read more on thehill.com
==========================

May 29, 2014, 12:09 am
House votes to fund Justice Department investigation of VA
***********************************************************

The House late Wednesday night adopted a proposal to provide funding for a Justice Department investigation of the alleged mismanagement of Department of Veterans Affairs facilities.

Rep. Mike Coffman’s (R-Colo.) amendment to the 2015 appropriations bill for the Justice Department, Commerce Department and science programs was adopted on a voice vote after 12 minutes of debate at nearly midnight.

Coffman said that the allegations, particularly after a VA inspector general report earlier in the day found that veterans at the Veterans Affairs facility in Phoenix waited an average of 115 days for an appointment, merited a Justice Department review.

“When our service members are deprived of the quality health care they have earned, we must demand justice from those who are found responsible,” Coffman said.

Specifically, Coffman’s proposal would provide the U.S. Attorneys within the Justice Department with an additional $1 million in fiscal 2015. It would be offset by cutting funds for the Justice Department’s general administration salaries and expenses account by the same amount.

Coffman said that a VA inspector general investigation would not be enough.
“We have received credible allegations from numerous employees that multiple VA supervisors are instructing them to destroy evidence,” Coffman said.

But Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.), the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Commerce-Justice-Science subcommittee, argued the inspector general report had not indicated that the quality of care – apart from wait times – was substandard. He warned that a Justice Department investigation would be unnecessary.

“I think we don’t want to create a situation where we don’t have veterans seeking care based on misinformation,” Fattah said.

http://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/house/207529-house-votes-to-fund-justice-department-investigation-of-va

canopfor on May 29, 2014 at 4:50 AM

VA Official Denies Destroyed Wait Lists Were Secret
May 28, 2014 11:48pm
********************

A senior official at the center of the Department of Veterans Affairs wait list scandal told Congress that he does not believe the documents, which are all believed to have been destroyed, were secret.

The House Veterans Affairs Committee held an uncommon primetime hearing Wednesday evening that extended late into the night to examine the VA’s lack of compliance with a May 8 congressional subpoena for documents that lawmakers hope could shine light on a hidden wait list that schedulers allegedly used to manipulate a backlog of veterans waiting for health care.

Dr. Thomas Lynch, M.D., a senior VA official tasked to lead an internal investigation into the accusations, said that the lists, which included about 1,700 veterans, were destroyed in late 2012 through mid-2013 once the patients were rescheduled because they contained confidential “patient identifiable information.”

Through more than four hours of testimony, Lynch contended the lists were not intended to be secret, but rather were automatically generated by the VA’s scheduling system, known as VistA, to help employees track appointments that needed to be re-booked.

“I did not think they were secret lists,” said Lynch, Assistant Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Clinical Operations. “When you cancel a patient, it generates a document that says these are the patients you canceled. It provides information about their Social Security number, the date of their appointment and the time of their appointment so that you can use that information to reschedule the patient.”

VA Acting Inspector General Richard J. Griffin released an interim report Wednesday that confirmed scheduling manipulation at the Phoenix VA Medical Center that was “systemic” at facilities throughout the country and risked forgetting or losing track of veterans seeking care.

Lynch said he has made three trips to Phoenix to investigate the alleged misconduct since finding out about the issue on April 9, although he admitted he has not met with any veterans or doctors during his visits.

“We learned during the course of the second visit that the transfer and the use of this document was occurring during the course of rescheduling patients because they were trying to provide care more promptly and because they were trying to consolidate clinic profiles to make the clinic management more efficient,” Lynch testified. “Once the rescheduling has occurred, the list is no longer necessary, so it is appropriately destroyed.”

Lynch said he did not know specifically which schedulers destroyed the lists, drawing the ire of lawmakers.

“It’s important that we identify the people that actually did the destruction of these things,” Rep. Dan Benishek, R-Mich., said. “I just don’t understand how you can conduct an investigation about the alleged destruction of documents and not actually talk to anybody or know the name of anybody who actually did the destruction.”

The VA Inspector General’s interim report found that the practices are “systemic” throughout veteran hospitals, and his probe has now expanded to 42 VA facilities throughout the country.

“Veterans’ health is at stake, and I will not stand for a department cover-up,” House Veterans Affairs Chairman Jeff Miller, R-Fla., said during the hearing. “To fulfill our congressional oversight duties, it is absolutely essential to receive the documents that we have requested from the Department of Veterans Affairs. The scope of the May 8th subpoena was very narrow, and was sufficiently tailored to provide reasonable time to produce the documents in full.”

The subpoenas requested the VA produce all emails and written correspondence regarding the destruction or disappearance of alternate or interim wait lists sent and received by 27 various VA officials between April 9 and May 8.

While the committee’s ranking Democrat, Rep. Michael Michaud, acknowledged the VA has been more responsive over the past several days, he said he was “not wholly satisfied” with the department’s compliance with the committee’s investigation.

“I am not happy,” Michaud, D-Maine, said. “We do expect answers. We’ll get to the bottom of this to uncover the truth and ensure a solution is implemented that never allows something like this to happen again.”

After the interim report was released, dozens of Members of Congress called on VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign, including Rep. Doug Lamborn, who spoke out during the hearing to demand that the secretary step down.

“I was waiting for information to be gathered to make my judgment and now it is in,” Lamborn, R-Colo., said. “Even if the secretary did not know in advance of these wrongdoings — and I don’t believe he did — these violations should not have happened on his watch.”

While at least 58 Members of Congress, including at least 20 Democrats, have called for Shinseki to resign, one House Republican suggested that President Obama is ultimately responsible for the department’s transgressions.

“I think this goes all the way to the desk of the president of the United States,” Rep. David Jolly, R-Fla., said.

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/05/va-official-denies-destroyed-wait-lists-were-secret/

canopfor on May 29, 2014 at 5:24 AM

House Veterans Affairs hearing on healthcare inquiry turns testy

May 28 2014 7:30PM
********************

Veterans Affairs officials came in for a bipartisan tongue-lashing Wednesday night from the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, with lawmakers accusing the VA of “stonewalling” requests for documents pertinent to the investigation into long wait times for healthcare.

The contentious committee hearing came hours after an interim report from the VA’s inspector general was released. It found systemic problems throughout the VA network in scheduling veterans for medical appointments, as well as “instances of manipulation” to mask long waits.

“Until VA understands that we’re deadly serious, you can expect us to be over your shoulder every single day,”

committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) warned three VA officials at the hearing. Earlier in the day, Miller called for VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki to resign.

Although the VA has produced more than 5,500 pages of documents, Miller accused the agency of stonewalling the panel and failing to produce all of the documents it has sought.

The committee’s top Democrat, Rep. Michael H. Michaud of Maine, added, “Let me be clear. I am not happy…. We do expect answers.”

The inspector general’s investigation has expanded to 42 sites, up from the 26 previously reported. VA facilities in Phoenix, San Antonio and Fort Collins, Colo., have been identified as subjects of the review, but the inspector general’s office has declined to identify others. That has frustrated members of Congress eager to know about facilities in their districts.

“I think every member of Congress is going to be looking at their local VA centers and wanting to know the truth on what’s happening in their own communities,” Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Turlock) said.

Miller grilled VA officials about an email written by a Los Angeles VA employee alleging the facility was manipulating wait times. In the email obtained by the panel, the employee asked where to report “inappropriate scheduling practices.”

Another email obtained by the panel showed that a Los Angeles VA official had dismissed the worker as “an angry employee who did not get her performance award.”

Thomas Lynch, the VA assistant deputy undersecretary for health for clinical operations, told the committee that the

“only concern that I am aware of” related to Los Angeles was the cancellation of old radiology orders. He said Los Angeles VA officials had assured him the orders were canceled “only after a careful review.”

“Well, let me give you a little hint,” Miller told Lynch. “VA won’t tell you the truth.”

Lynch pledged to look into the matter.

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) took Lynch to task for traveling to the Phoenix VA to investigate allegations of secret waiting lists, but failing to meet with the whistle-blower who helped bring the issue to public attention.
Lynch said he was concerned such a meeting might interfere with the investigation.

Coffman retorted: “I think that your concern was it might interfere with the truth.”

http://www.latimes.com/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-va-house-hearing-20140528-story.html

canopfor on May 29, 2014 at 5:56 AM

canopfor on May 29, 2014 at 5:58 AM

Good to find out that Walsh is behind in the polls. There hasn’t been a single word about this locally. Shinseki is cut from the same cloth as Colin Powell. These two have no honor. They served but have no thought for their fellow men in arms. Shinseki should be fired but he’ll be allowed to resign just at Sebelius.

Kissmygrits on May 29, 2014 at 9:10 AM

Shineski and all his direct reports need to resign today or be fired tomorrow.

Zomcon JEM on May 29, 2014 at 9:26 AM

APACHE WHO KNOWS just carpet bombed this thread. Always dig your posts.

Cliff by the Ford on May 29, 2014 at 10:26 AM

Comment pages: 1 2 3