The Campaign Spot

No, Really, the VA Scandal Found a Way To Get Even Worse.

The lead headline from today’s Morning Jolt, hitting e-mailboxes mid-morning, may represent a bit of wishful thinking:

By the Time You Read This, Eric Shinseki May Already Be Gone.

For many, many good reasons:

A Veterans Administration health clinic in Phoenix used inappropriate scheduling practices and concealed chronically high wait times, according to an independent report released Wednesday — igniting a wave of outrage and prompting a new flood of calls for VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign.

The report, a 35-page interim document in advance of a full independent probe, found that 1,700 veterans using a Phoenix VA hospital were kept on unofficial wait lists.

Equally damning is the Inspector General’s examination of 226 veterans’ appointments in Phoenix during 2013. While the facility reported that only 43 percent of those veterans had to wait more than 14 days for an appointment, the report found that it was really 84 percent. The average wait for a veteran’s first appointment was 115 days, the investigation found in the sampling.

And those details, the inspector general warned, could be just the beginning.

We are finding that inappropriate scheduling practices are a systemic problem nationwide,” the report concluded.

Wait, it gets worse than the unofficial wait lists: “At least 1,700 military veterans waiting to see a doctor were never scheduled for an appointment and never placed on a wait list at the Veterans Affairs facility in Phoenix.”

Wait, it gets even worse: “It also appears to indicate the scope of the investigation is rapidly widening, with 42 VA facilities across the country now under investigation for possible abuse of scheduling practices, according to the report.”

Don’t worry, America. The President is on the case: “The President found the findings of the interim report deeply troubling,” says Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken.

This morning, Shinseki writes in USA Today that he’s on the case as well.

The findings of the interim report of VA’s Office of Inspector General on the Phoenix VA Health Care System are reprehensible to me and to this department, and we are not waiting to set things straight.

I immediately directed the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) to contact each of the 1,700 veterans in Phoenix waiting for primary care appointments in order to bring them the care they need and deserve.

In short, the guy who completely missed an appalling scandal’s emergence and spread, and who remained oblivious to it until very recently, is insisting to us that he’s just the guy to solve the problem. 

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