A report today from the Department of Veterans Affairs’ inspector general, ordered by President Obama, validates whistleblower accounts about the disastrous state of the VA’s medical center in Phoenix. At least 1,700 veterans languished on an unofficial wait list with little hope of actually getting the care they were after, the report found. With the help of the fabricated wait list, the hospital was able to report an average wait time of 24 days to get a primary care appointment. The inspector general found that number is actually 115 days. It also noted that the false numbers were used by hospital leadership on performance evaluations considered when bonuses and raises are given.
The report didn’t address allegations that up to 40 veterans died because of the extreme wait times, but it did raise the specter of similar failures throughout the country’s VA hospitals. The problems in Phoenix may be most well known, but “inappropriate scheduling practices are systemic throughout,” the report said.
Not long after the report’s release, a handful of lawmakers renewed calls for VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign and a few notable senators joined the chorus for the first time. Senator John McCain, who hadn’t decided whether Shinseki needed to go until today, told CNN that the secretary should “move on.” Perhaps more significant, Senator Mark Udall became the first Democrat to come out against Shinseki, writing on Twitter that he “must step down.”