News

Lawmakers want panel on VA delays

Lawmakers want panel on VA delays

VETERANS AFFAIRS:This 2010 photo provided by Amy Miner shows her Kryn Miner in Afghanistan, an Army veteran who suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and who was shot to death in Essex, Vt., by one of their children in April after threatening to kill the family. Amy Miner believes the Veterans Affairs health system must do more to help veterans who struggle with PTSD after returning home. Photo: Associated Press

By David Lawder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Expressing frustration with a growing controversy over medical care delays for veterans, a prominent U.S. congressman asked President Barack Obama on Tuesday to establish a bipartisan commission to investigate the issue.

Representative Jeff Miller, who chairs the House Veterans Affairs Committee, said the commission was needed because “VA’s delays in care problem is growing in size and scope by the day.”

Probes into deaths of veterans who were waiting for medical appointments at some VA clinics and hospitals and into allegations of schemes to mask months-long waiting times for care were now beyond the capabilities and resources of the VA’s own inspector general’s office, the Florida Republican said.

“For nearly a year, we have been pleading with top Department of Veterans Affairs leaders and the president to take immediate steps to stop the growing pattern of preventable veteran deaths and hold accountable any and all VA employees who have allowed patients to slip through the cracks,” Miller said in a statement.

“In response, we’ve received disturbing silence from the White House and one excuse after another from VA,” he added.

The agency’s inspector general’s office is investigating allegations that 40 veterans died last year while waiting for appointments at Phoenix-area VA hospitals and clinics. VA doctors in Phoenix say that many veterans requesting appointments were held on a secret waiting list, some as long as 21 months, until spots could open up on an official list that met the VA’s much shorter waiting time goals.

Probes into similar schemes have been reported at VA facilities in Cheyenne, Wyoming; Fort Collins, Colorado; and San Antonio and Austin, Texas.

Miller said precedents exist for such special commissions, including one established by former President George W. Bush in 2007 on care for warriors wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan in response to reports of substandard conditions and mismanagement at the former Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney on Tuesday reiterated Obama’s support for VA Secretary Eric Shinseki.

“The president remains confident that Secretary Shinseki has the ability to lead the department and to take appropriate action based on the (inspector general’s) findings,” Carney said.

Shinseki is due to address the matter on Thursday in testimony before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.

(Additional reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

Recent Headlines

5 hours ago in Local

Springfield City Council to Discuss Waste Hauling Fee Increase

garbage

The Springfield City Council may or may not consider raising garbage fees next month.

11 hours ago in Local

Dems Slate Two Candidates for Fall Election

vote

Democrats have slated Robert Spencer of Pleasant Plains to run against Don Gray for Sangamon County Clerk, while Circuit Clerk Paul Palazzolo will face opposition from Donnie Killen of Springfield.

11 hours ago in Local

Redfield: Capitol Has Similar, But Different, Feeling

ILLINOIS POLITICS 7-24-15 Mike Lawrence and Kent Redfield

University of Illinois Springfield Political Science Kent Redfield says in some ways, it actually feels like lawmakers are getting toward the end of the legislative session.

12 hours ago in Local, Sports

Nunn Dismissed from U of I Basketball Team

university illinois

The University of Illinois has dismissed junior guard Kendrick Nunn from the basketball team following his guilty plea to misdemeanor domestic battery.

12 hours ago in Local

Informant Suggests Drew Peterson Wants to Sell Drugs

FILE - In this May 8, 2009 file photo, former Bolingbrook, Ill., police sergeant Drew Peterson arrives at the Will County Courthouse in Joliet, Ill., for his arraignment on charges of first-degree murder in the 2004 death of his third wife Kathleen Savio. On Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013, Will County Judge Edward Burmila sentenced Peterson to 38 years in prison for Savio's murder.  (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File)

Secret recordings between Drew Peterson and an inmate he's accused of trying to enlist to help kill a prosecutor show that the former suburban Chicago police officer discussed selling drugs in Mexico if he gets out of prison.