Obama ‘Madder Than Hell’ Over Troubles With VA System
At the same time, lawmakers continue their push for answers over what happened, and a VA undersecretary resigns after allegations the VA health system kept secret lists to conceal long delays for care.
Los Angeles Times: Growing Evidence Points To Systemic Troubles In VA Health Care System
The Phoenix VA Health Care System is under a federal Justice Department investigation for reports that it maintained a secret waiting list to conceal the extent of its patient delays, in part because of complaints such as Laird's. But there are now clear signs that veterans' health centers across the U.S. are juggling appointments and sometimes manipulating wait lists to disguise long delays for primary and follow-up appointments, according to federal reports, congressional investigators and interviews with VA employees and patients (Zucchino, Carcamo and Zarembo, 5/18).
The New York Times: Obama Angry Over Falsification Of Veterans Affairs Data, Chief Of Staff Says
President Obama is “madder than hell” about reports that some medical facilities run by the Department of Veterans Affairs have falsified data to hide substantial delays for veterans to see doctors, and he has demanded that the department’s leaders “fix these things,” the White House chief of staff said in an interview aired Sunday. “The president is madder than hell, and I’ve got the scars to prove it, given the briefings that I’ve given the president” on the subject, the chief of staff, Denis R. McDonough, said on the CBS News program "Face the Nation" (Knowlton, 5/18).
Politico: McDonough: Obama ‘Madder Than Hell’ On VA Scandal
President Barack Obama is "madder than hell" about the Veterans Affairs scandal, White House chief of staff Denis McDonough says. “The president is madder than hell, and I’ve got the scars to prove it, given the briefings I’ve given the president," he said in an interview with CBS News Chief White House Correspondent Major Garrett that aired Sunday on "Face the Nation." "Nobody is more outraged about this problem, right now, Major, than the president of the United States," McDonough added (Topaz, 5/18).
Fox News: Republicans Put Heat On Obama Over VA Scandal
Republicans are putting the heat on President Obama over the scandal at the Department of Veterans Affairs over allegedly fatal health care delays, saying he can no longer float above the ever-widening controversy. "It's time President Obama personally answer for the horrific conditions and abuses occurring at our veterans facilities," House GOP Leader Eric Cantor said in a statement, after VA Secretary Eric Shinseki testified Thursday before a Senate committee. Lawmakers at that hearing were visibly frustrated over the state of the VA, and the succession of reports that VA workers may have manipulated records to make it seem like veterans were being treated in a timely fashion, when they were not. Further, they voiced concerns that the department is waiting for the results of investigations that may not conclude for weeks, or even months (5/16).
The Associated Press: Obama And Congress Move To Address VA Firestorm
The Obama administration and Congress are moving quickly to respond to a growing political firestorm over allegations of treatment delays and falsified records at veterans hospitals nationwide. The top official for veterans' health care resigned Friday, and House Republicans scheduled a vote for Wednesday on legislation that would give Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki greater authority to fire or demote senior executives and administrators at the agency and its 152 medical centers (5/17).
Fox News: VA Inspector General's Office Was Reportedly Told Of Wait Lists Months Before Scandal Broke
The office of the Veterans Administration's Inspector General had launched an investigation into claims that the VA's Albuquerque hospital was hiding the length of time patients were made to wait for treatment months before a similar scandal was made public at the VA's Phoenix facility, according to a published report. The Albuquerque Journal reported Friday that the Inspector General's office had started an inquiry after receiving complaints from employees that wait times were being falsified by officials. However, the paper said that the status of the investigation was unclear (5/19).
The Arizona Republic: VA Undersecretary Resigns; Exit Launches New Controversy
Dr. Robert Petzel, the undersecretary for Health and second in command at the Department of Veteran Affairs, departed the agency on Friday in the midst of the growing controversy over VA patient wait times and possible falsification of records. His departure almost immediately created a new controversy, however, with Veterans Secretary Eric Shinseki saying Petzel resigned and congressional critics saying Petzel had already been scheduled to retire. In fact, the VA announced Petzel's pending retirement in a news release in September, and the White House announced May 1 that it had nominated Dr. Jeffrey A. Murawsky to fill Petzel's post (O’Dell, Nowicki and Sanders, 5/17).