VA whistleblower: IG "softened" report on veteran deaths

No surprise to Hot Air readers, of course, but this allegation will come as a bombshell in a House hearing today on the VA scandal. This whistleblower claim will just be one of the issues that the Veteran Affairs committee will probe in the wait-list fraud that permeated the VA. Another will be the fact that the number of veteran deaths connected to those secret wait lists has skyrocketed from 40 to 293:

Our source, who works at VA headquarters and who spoke exclusively to CBS News, said officials inside the agency asked for a revision of the first draft. That’s standard practice, but in this case the source said it amounted to pressure on Inspector General Richard Griffin to add a line to water down the report.

“The organization was worried that the report was going to damn the organization,” the whistle-blower said. “And therefore it was important for them to introduce language that softened that blow.” …

But that conclusion, that no deaths were caused by delays, seemed to conflict with the rest of the report. For example: “28 instances of clinically significant delays” were found, including delays linked to six deaths. And findings indicated either “treatment” or “an appointment for this patient might have changed the outcome.”

That certainly sounds inconsistent with the sentence added by IG Richard Griffin in his final report. The Arizona Republic raised questions about the same issue last week, and what they found makes the “inserted a line” explanation for the finding look suspect. They looked at the IG’s methodology for determining correlation and/or causation and asked medical experts to review it, and they concluded that the IG used a “virtually impossible” standard for that effort.

The effect was to drain media interest in the IG report, if not the intent. The whistleblower’s value in this case is to establish that as the intent, too. Griffin faced scrutiny in last week’s Senate hearing on that same subject, with Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) noting pointedly that “if you’re the VA, this is the line you want inserted in that report.” CNN also reported later that the families of the deceased veterans rejected the IG report as “BS,” too.

We’ll see how Griffin explains it this week. Perhaps Congress should be looking for a more independent investigator at this point, one that will use a realistic standard to give the families of those deceased veterans the reliable answers they deserve.

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David Strom 3:31 PM on November 30, 2022