John McCain, Jeff Flake Ask for Senate Committee Investigation of Phoenix VA Hospital

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Gage Skidmore


Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake are requesting that the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee investigate claims that as many as 40 veterans died while waiting for care at the Phoenix VA healthcare system.

Florida Congressman Jeff Miller, the chairman of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee, has claimed it appears that Phoenix VA hospital officials were manipulating a scheduling system to make it seem wait times were not as long as they truly were.

See also:
-Amid Allegations of Healthcare Problems at the Phoenix VA, Another Veteran Suicide

Earlier this month, the Arizona Republic published explosive allegations about mismanagement of the VA hospital made by a former doctor there.

That doctor has claimed that the 40 vets died while on waiting lists to see doctors or specialists.

Amid these allegations, New Times reported that a veteran had committed suicide in the parking lot of the Phoenix VA hospital, although we don't know the specifics of his treatment. The Phoenix VA director said in an e-mail to employees that the veteran didn't seek treatment that day.

Six months before that, another Phoenix vet committed suicide, and his family released his suicide note, which said the government gave him "no help" for the injuries he suffered in combat, and that he was unable to receive immediate medical care.

As for the latest allegations surrounding delays in care, McCain and Flake have asked the Senate committee for an investigation and a hearing.

Additionally, McCain's office released a letter he wrote to Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, asking for more information about the allegations. McCain has tried to deal with the VA's backlog problem before, but McCain says it certainly looks like it's just getting worse:
"As a result, I have dedicated two of my staffer in Phoenix and a staffer in my DC office to handle the problems with the VA system in Maricopa County, sending inquiries for, and otherwise helping, veterans wherever possible to schedule appointments critical to their health, as well as conducting oversight of the VA generally. I am appalled by the number of veterans who stated to my office that the VA was just "waiting" or "hoping" that they would die and be one less burden on the system. These increasing individual delays clearly illustrate systemic problems with how effectively the VA is providing care to our veterans."
McCain also listed out nine questions he'd like answers for from the VA head, which address pretty much all of the major allegations:
1. Did, as was recently reported, at least forty veterans die while waiting unreasonably for the delivery of medical care by PVAHCS? If so, to what extent were those delays a causal factor in their deaths? What does the nation-wide data in this regard show?

2. Does PVAHCS keep multiple lists of veterans awaiting care? If so, what is the purpose of keeping multiple lists? Is this practice intended to obscure how long veterans have been awaiting care?

3. What is the actual average wait time for PVAHCS patients? Have any previously reported average wait times been based on the alleged deceptive unofficial list system?

4. To what extent have these multiple waiting lists obscured actual waiting times?

5. What mechanism is in place to guarantee a veteran is placed on the EWL as soon as he/she requests an appointment?

6. PVAHCS reportedly paid out bonuses to VA officials for reducing wait times, even though those reductions only occurred by manipulating wait lists. How many officials received bonuses by reducing wait times through the waitlists manipulation? What did each official receive as a bonus? What was PVAHCS's aggregate spending on such bonuses?

7. According to a recent report by the Department of Veterans Affairs, no Phoenix patient deaths in recent years have resulted in "adverse disclosures" to family members. Those disclosures are required when medical negligence or mistakes contribute to a patient's death. Given that as many as 40 deaths have allegedly resulted from delays in treatment due to the multiple waiting list issue, why were no "adverse disclosures" made regarding those reported patient deaths? Will "adverse disclosures" be issued? If not, why not?

8. What is the ratio of doctors to patients in the Phoenix VA Health Care System? Has that ratio has an adverse impact on patient waiting times?

9. Has an OIG team or other VA oversight body already addressed a waiting list problem at PVAHCS and what changes, if any, were recommended? If recommendations were made, what if anything did PVAHCS due to implement these recommendations? If not, why not?

Got a tip? Send it to: Matthew Hendley.

Follow Valley Fever on Twitter at @ValleyFeverPHX.
Follow Matthew Hendley at @MatthewHendley.



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14 comments
Francisco Cortez
Francisco Cortez

McCain's own party told him to STFU, so why is anyone listening to this guy and his side kick?

danzigsdaddy
danzigsdaddy topcommenter

Saying you want to put something before the Senate or Congress is just an extremely expensive way of burying something. No results and you just spent a fortune sidestepping an issue

Richard Dickson
Richard Dickson

I wish they would investigate the Omaha VA medical center, too. The hiring of contractors at the VA is criminal. Many of their contractors placed false and derogatory information into veterans files. Heineman and Hilgert, and their ilk should be in prison.

Carole Magary
Carole Magary

You know as Senator's they should be checking out all agencies all the time! What are they doing?

DjAdidas Nick Nuvamsa
DjAdidas Nick Nuvamsa

native americans all cramed at the PIMC wait 10 hours just to get seen, the government take all our money, but come short when providing, worthless and pathetic .

Dawndrea Curley
Dawndrea Curley

no surprise... it isn't just the Vets that die waiting for care. People who PAY for their coverage also die waiting.

james8394
james8394

O it's Tommy this and Tommy that and "Tommy go away"

But it's "Thank you Mr. Atkins" when the band begins to play'

royalphoenix
royalphoenix

supreme court hears arguments today on the Camp Lejeune contaminated water. of course the doj sides with the contaminators and f--k the veterans. peace

jimstaro
jimstaro

The Country Served that 'Talks the Talk',  way too much and with symbols,  but very rarely 'Walks the Walk' especially through their representatives, federal and states!!

"Mar 17th, 2014 - The Department of Veterans Affairs wants an extra $10 billion in its overall budget for fiscal 2015. That would supply the agency with more than $160 billion."

TX-19 Congressional Candidate Neal Marchbanks - Veteran: 28 March 2014 - "Congress controls the budget for the VA and it is the fault of Congress that the VA does not have enough employees and that the facilities are too small."
Congress, in Veteran Marchbanks statement, are the people served and who representatives work for, or are supposed to!

Why do Conservatives and much of the Country Attack the VA and it's dedicated civil servant personal as well as the many needed volunteers!!

Freedom Isn't Free, We Paid For It, American Veterans!!
Reality as to those of us who've served:

They, conservatives, don't seek a smaller government, that's never been their goal. They seek a privatized for corporate profit government, with no accountability, regulations, built into what would be corporate run agencies contracted by them, no bid or for campaign contributions, and paid with the peoples treasury. and much more expensive to run and maintain, And we've been seeing just what those private contracts have been giving back, think the NSA and the military contractors and the costs for, off the government treasury, they Never mention the private sector, with their huge amounts of corporate cash especially in the executive suites, in the hearings or public displays, that handles similar issues, like hospitals and clinics as they attack VA personal when issues arise. Nor do they try to help the, under funded and especially with our wars, VA in overcoming, the VA does that on their own mostly, and in these past some five years with the help of the Executive branch and it's Cabinet, and with what is allotted to them through the representatives of the people served!!

""26 March 2014 - In U.S., hospital-acquired infections run rampant""
""16 April 2014 - Children's Hospital investigated five patient deaths from deadly fungal disease in 2009""

"12 years also is a long time. We now have a lifetime responsibility to a generation of service members, veterans and their families." Dr. Jonathan Woodson 11 Sep. 2013: 'With 9/11 Came Lifetime Responsibility' {two tax cuts, especially for the wealthy, came with these two recent unpaid for wars, nor the results of, DeJa-Vu all over again from the previous decades and wars from! Ignore the many issues, by those served, no need to fund!}

Sen. Bernie Sanders told Republicans: “If you can’t afford to take care of your veterans, than don’t go war. These people are bearing the brunt of what war is about, We have a moral obligation to support them.” February, 26th, 2014

"If military action is worth our troops’ blood, it should be worth our treasure, too" "not just in the abstract, but in the form of a specific ante by every American." -Andrew Rosenthal 10 Feb. 2013

Where were the 'offsets' to federal spending as the rubber stamping, more then the off the books wars with no-bid contracts, was going on and claiming 'patriotism' for?

USN All Shore '67-'71 GMG3 Vietnam In Country '70-'71 - Independent

azwi
azwi

John McCain and his boy puppet Flake are really the last two people that should be on any committee concerning our veterans. McCain has a long and notoriously bad voting record on our veterans. Old John is always against any and all veteran benefits and programs. They're both now just playing opportunist but the American people already know that McCain is a pathological liar and a bitter old dangerous war loving, warmongering madman that's no longer mentally competent to hold public office. As for Flake nobody really takes the puppet serious anyways because we known that he's nothing more than McCain stooge and dummy. 

If McCain doesn't want to retie yet I suggest that he puts country first instead of McCain first as he always does. Resign from the senate and his wife Cindy could perhaps have him wash her beer trucks as a job.

danzigsdaddy
danzigsdaddy topcommenter

Enough talking, it has done nothing so far but delay any help. We fought for this country, how about fighting for us with actions instead of words.

shadeaux
shadeaux

@danzigsdaddy  

I don't know about you danzig but, as a Vietnam veteran, I'm used to "just words" I've learned that it is just a lesson in futility to expect more.

As with Arizona CPS, the pols will all express outrage, meetings will be held, investigations will be done and in the end..............Nothing EFFECTIVE will happen.

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