Utterly Shameful

I am more than a little late to this story, but let it be noted that there is something rotten in the state of the Department of Veterans Affairs:

Amid contrived outrage over Benghazi and the improving fortunes of its healthcare reform, the Obama administration could be facing a genuine scandal about its treatment of military veterans that has the potential to attract broad political condemnation of its competence.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is facing mounting evidence that some of the hospitals it runs have been keeping two sets of books to make it look as if they were reducing waiting times to see a doctor.

More damning, the department is investigating the claims of a whistleblower doctor in Arizona that dozens of patients at one hospital died while they were languishing on a hidden waiting list without ever being given an appointment.

Richard Griffin, the department’s acting inspector general, admitted on Thursday that its review could lead to criminal charges. In the first political casualty of the scandal, Robert Petzel, the department’s undersecretary for heath, resigned on Friday.

If the evidence of mismanagement continues to accumulate, the Obama administration will find itself not in another partisan knife-fight, but under fire from both parties in a Congress where the uniformed military is venerated.

I hardly think that outrage about Benghazi or the implementation of Obamacare is “contrived,” but I can hardly disagree with the rest of the excerpt, and indeed, “[i]f the evidence of mismanagement continues to accumulate,” the Obama administration will deserve to find itself “under fire from both parties.”

Speaking of the Obama administration, its response to the shenanigans that have gone on at the Department of Veterans Affairs leaves much to be desired:

President Obama‘s spokesman maintained to reporters that there was “just a suggestion” of a scandal at the Veterans Affairs Department — and then, minutes later, a VA official who testified before Congress on Thursday about employees cooking the books resigned.

“You’re saying there’s a suggestion that something terrible happened in Phoenix, and that’s under investigation; all we know is its a suggestion,” White House press secretary Jay Carney told ABC’s Jonathan Karl while defending Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinsekiduring Friday’s press briefing. “We should just accept allegations as true without investigating them?”

And then, news broke that one of Shinseki’s top aides had resigned. “Today, I accepted the resignation of Dr. Robert Petzel, Under Secretary for Health in the Department of Veterans Affairs,” Shinseki said in a statement. “As we know from the veteran community, most veterans are satisfied with the quality of their VA health care, but we must do more to improve timely access to that care. I am committed to strengthening veterans’ trust and confidence in their VA healthcare system.”

Timing: It continues to be everything.

Comments

  1. Petzel had already announced he would retire this year. This is a meaningless gesture to give the illusion of accountability, unless, of course, Petzel’s retirement accounts are all taken away as punishment for his involvement in the deaths of veterans. Let that happen, and I might think people were starting to be held accountable.

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