Government

Florida Delegation to Hold Hearing on VA Medical Centers

By: Kevin Derby | Posted: June 12, 2014 3:55 AM
Vern Buchanan and Alcee Hastings

Vern Buchanan and Alcee Hastings

On Thursday, the Florida congressional delegation, led by U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., and U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., will be holding a delegation hearing on problems at VA medical facilities across the Sunshine State. Florida is home to more than 1.5 million veterans.

In recent weeks, the VA department has been plagued after reports emerged of altered wait lists and other problems. After serving five years in President Barack Obama’s Cabinet, Eric Shinseki resigned his post as secretary of Veterans Affairs in the aftermath of damning reports.

This week,  Buchanan pointed to a VA audit unveiled on Monday that found tens of thousand of veterans have been forced to wait more than 90 days for the first appointments. The report also found that around 13 percent of VA schedulers altered wait lists and lied to veterans about wait times. The audit found average wait times at VA medical facilities in Florida usually averaged more than a month.

U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-Fla., said she was pleased to see facilities in South Florida were not among the top offenders when it came to altering wait lists and insisted more work needed to be done.

“I am pleased to see that none of South Florida's veterans’ hospitals or clinics were included in those that require further audit due to questionable scheduling practices,” Frankel said on Monday after the report was released. "With that said, there needs to be a careful review of all facilities to make sure that they have the policies and resources necessary to give our veterans the care that they have earned and deserve. This means that Congress has to step up to the plate and pay for the wars of recent years. It will also require expanded access to private health care providers.”

In the meantime, with Floridians holding the top two spots on the House Veterans Affairs Committee, the Sunshine State’s delegation continues to play a prominent role on the issue. Earlier this week, the full House passed U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller’s, R-Fla.,"Veterans Access to Care Act" which mandates VA facilities to offer non-VA care for veterans who travel more than 40 miles to reach a clinic or can’t schedule appointments for two weeks. Miller is the chairman of the committee and his proposal also stops employee bonuses for the next three years.

“The news about VA’s delays in care crisis just keeps getting worse,” Miller said on Tuesday after the House passed his bill without opposition. “The recent deaths of at least 23 veterans have been linked to delayed VA medical care. Another 35 veterans have died while awaiting care in the Phoenix area alone, 57,000 veteran patients have been waiting at least 90 days for their first VA medical appointment, and an additional 64,000 veterans appear to have been denied appointments after requesting them. I cannot state it strongly enough – this is a national disgrace. But for our veterans it is something more – a national emergency. I appreciate the urgency that House leadership displayed in moving this crucial legislation so quickly. I hope the Senate will move swiftly on similar legislation so VA can begin to restore trust with the veterans it is charged with serving.”
 


Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com.
 


Comments (1)

JimS
1:40PM JUN 12TH 2014
VA 'scandal'? It's the Country Served and Their Representatives, mostly from conservative ideology and especially under conservative administrations, free wars and privatize for corporate profit causing problems to compound by obstructing full funding and ignoring many many issues, 'SCANDAL'! Decades and Wars of Long!!

The Country that 'Talks the Talk' but rarely 'Walks the Walk', patriotism posers who loves the free wars and ignore any sacrifice as to the long term results from, while ignoring the many issues of Veterans, those that served them, especially as a result of our wars, their representatives leading that ignoring while attacking the under funded VA, decades now and wars from, they control the purse strings of the Country!

The Fallen Brothers and Sisters and Our Veterans Community are Not a Corporate Marketing Tool Especially on Memorial and Veterans' Days!!!!!!!

"In fiscal 2013, the VA spent about $4.8 billion, or about one-tenth of its healthcare costs, on private care, often for veterans who live far from VA facilities or veterans in need of care unavailable at a VA facility."

“Why in 2009 were we still using paper?” VA Assistant Secretary Tommy Sowers “When we came in, there was no plan to change that; we’ve been operating on a six month wait for over a decade.” 27 March 2013

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!

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

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