Corker, Alexander Call For Immediate Senate Investigation Of Veterans Affairs Scandal

Friday, May 23, 2014

Senator Bob Corker, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Senator Lamar Alexander, ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and 23 of their Senate Republican colleagues sent a letter to the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations today requesting “an immediate investigation into reported mismanagement, incompetence, and corruption within the Department of Veterans Affairs health care centers throughout the country.

“Specifically, the investigation should focus on how appropriated funds for patient care and record management were spent in light of allegations of concerted efforts to present inaccurate and misleading information about patient wait times in order to ensure VA employees qualified for personal bonuses,” wrote the senators.

“Given even the slightest hint of a possible organized effort to fabricate information critical to the care of our nation’s veterans, an immediate investigation should be conducted to determine if the health care of our veterans is being put at risk. We request your committee join the effort to thoroughly investigate and expose the facts surrounding this situation.”

Last week, Corker and Alexander wrote to VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki calling on the VA to conduct a “thorough, open and transparent” audit following reports of neglect at some of its medical facilities, including allegations that up to 40 patients may have died because of delayed care at the Phoenix VA Health Care System. The senators also asked Shinseki to provide specific information regarding the average time Tennessee veterans are waiting for care at VA facilities.

Full text of the letter is included below:

Dear Chairman and Ranking Member:

We are writing to request an immediate investigation into reported mismanagement, incompetence, and corruption within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care centers throughout the country.  Specifically, the investigation should focus on how appropriated funds for patient care and record management were spent in light of allegations of concerted efforts to present inaccurate and misleading information about patient wait times in order to ensure VA employees qualified for personal bonuses.

Recent reports have alleged VA employees created “secret” waiting lists, shredded official documents and engaged in other nefarious activities in order to cover-up backlogs of veterans’ claims.  Media reports have suggested that these “secret lists” were maintained in some cases to garner better data for year-end performance bonuses.  If true, these despicable acts are at the very least improper expenditures of government funds, and at worst may have contributed to the deterioration in health or even death of some of our brave veterans. This potential appalling behavior towards our veterans, mismanagement of government funds, and breach of public trust certainly warrants your committee’s full attention.

Given even the slightest hint of a possible organized effort to fabricate information critical to the care of our nation’s veterans, an immediate investigation should be conducted to determine if the health care of our veterans is being put at risk. We request your committee join the effort to thoroughly investigate and expose the facts surrounding this situation.

The federal government’s commitment to honor our nation’s veterans and provide them with proper care should never be called into question. Any allegations of such a heinous conspiracy as to engage in personal profiteering at the expense our veterans’ wellbeing by the very public servants entrusted to care for our veterans must be taken seriously and not ignored.

Thank you for your serious consideration of this matter and we look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

 


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