VA Chief ‘Deeply Regrets’ Comments Comparing Clinic Wait Times To Disneyland Lines
Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald's apology comes after critics blasted him about the "preposterous statement." Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., called on him to step down.
The Associated Press:
VA Chief: 'I Deeply Regret' Wait-Time Comparison To Disney
Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald said Tuesday he regrets remarks he made comparing long wait times at VA health care sites to waiting in line at a Disney amusement park. "It was never my intention to suggest that I don't take our mission of serving veterans very seriously," McDonald said in a written statement. "If my comments Monday led any veterans to believe that I, or the dedicated workforce I am privileged to lead, don't take that noble mission seriously, I deeply regret that. Nothing could be further from the truth." (Daly, 5/24)
VA Chief Apologizes For Comparing Medical Wait Times To Lines At Disneyland
During a roundtable discussion with reporters Monday, McDonald had said that veterans’ satisfaction with the health care experience was more important than the wait times they endured. Lawmakers lashed out in letters, official statements and social media. By Tuesday morning, Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., began publicly prodding McDonald to resign. “Secretary McDonald’s preposterous statement is right out of Never Never Land,” Blunt said in a statement. “I call on him to resign because it’s clear he cannot prioritize getting our veterans the health care they deserve and have earned in a timely manner. Dismissing wait times when veterans can often wait months for an appointment is negligent and a clear sign that new leadership is needed at the VA.” (Ybarra, 5/24)
VA Secretary Bob McDonald Clarifies Comment Comparing Wait Times To Disneyland
Swift backlash followed from both sides of the aisle. When asked on MSNBC if he was sorry, McDonald stopped short of an apology, but said the VA was undergoing its largest transformation ever, saying, "We still have work to do." ... "These wait times can be a life or death matter for our veterans. We've seen the devastating results of delays in treatment, from veteran suicide to veterans dying while awaiting care," said Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif., senior member of the House Armed Services Committee. (Chuck, 5/24)
VA Secretary Facing Bipartisan Firestorm Over Disney Comments
One of the toughest condemnations came from Illinois Rep. Tammy Duckworth, a Democrat and Iraq war veteran who lost her legs in Iraq and still receives health care at a VA hospital. “Comparing abhorrent wait times to a trip to Disneyland is unbelievably tone-deaf and hurtful to American heroes desperately in need of care,” she said in a statement. Duckworth, who is running for Senate, said McDonald “needs to comprehensively address the VA's systemic problems -- and that means reducing wait times, improving care and increasing patient satisfaction.” (5/24)
Meanwhile, are "MinuteClinics" the key to solving the long wait times?
Kaiser Health News:
CVS MinuteClinics: A Cure For Long Wait Times At Veterans Affairs?
Struggling with long wait times, the Veterans Affairs Health Care System is trying something new: a partnership with the CVS Pharmacy chain to offer urgent care services to more than 65,000 veterans. The experiment begins today at the VA’s operations in Palo Alto, California. Veterans can visit 14 “MinuteClinics” operated by CVS in the San Francisco Bay area and Sacramento, where staff will treat them for conditions such as respiratory infections, order lab tests and prescribe medications, which can be filled at CVS pharmacies. (Feder Ostrov, 5/25)