Secretary Shinseki to Testify on VA Health Care

WASHINGTON, May 8 – Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders today announced a hearing next Thursday on “The State of VA Health Care.”

Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki will be among the witnesses at the hearing that Sanders said will focus on what the VA health care system does well and how it can improve care for veterans.

Referring to allegations that patients died while they were on waiting lists at VA hospitals in Phoenix and elsewhere, Sanders previously announced that his panel will hold a hearing immediately after the independent Office of Inspector General sorts out the facts and submits its findings.  “I take these allegations very seriously,” Sanders said. “I expect the inspector general will conduct the investigation thoroughly and provide this committee with an objective analysis of these allegations.”

Meanwhile, Sanders said the committee at Thursday’s hearing will take a broader look at the overall VA health care system that serves 6.2 million veterans at hundreds of VA facilities throughout the country. “In fact,” he said, “some 200,000 veterans get care every single day and independent studies consistently show that VA provides, in general, excellent care to our veterans.”

A survey released last month found that veterans ranked VA hospitals among the best in the nation. The American Customer Satisfaction Index said VA hospitals scored equal or better ratings than private hospitals.

“Nonetheless,” Sanders said, “in a system as large and bureaucratic as the VA, it is imperative that we uncover the problems that exist in the system and address them boldly. The veterans of our country deserve the best-quality care that we can provide and I intend to do my best to make sure that happens.”

The hearing will begin at 10 a.m. on May 15 in Room 106 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building.