Chairman Sanders Statement on VA Inspector General Interim Report

BURLINGTON, Vt., May 28 – U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Bernie Sanders issued the following statement today after the Office of Inspector General issued an interim report on the Phoenix VA:

“I want to thank the Office of Inspector General for an expedited and detailed report on the situation at the Phoenix VA.

“Every veteran in this country who enters the VA deserves high-quality care, and that care should be delivered in a timely manner. It is unacceptable that some veterans are forced onto long waiting lists and it is totally intolerable that any VA employee may be manipulating data in Phoenix or anywhere else to hide how long veterans really have to wait to see doctors.

“Veterans across the country and independent studies tell us that the quality of care for veterans in the VA system is good. The issue, as this report makes clear, is that in parts of the country veterans are unable to access that care in a timely manner and that in some cases data is being manipulated.  The IG made a series of recommendations for improvements at the VA in Phoenix and system-wide. The department must expeditiously implement all of those recommendations.

“Further, at a time when the VA has seen a huge increase in its patient load in recent years, I urge the secretary to review whether the department’s goal for seeing patients within 14 days is realistic under its current budget. The VA must determine what new staffing may be needed at VA hospitals in parts of the country where there have been significant increases in patient loads.

“When the Senate reconvenes next week I will introduce legislation which addresses some of these issues and other concerns facing our veterans’ community.”