Medical Care for Veterans a Contentious Topic This Week

May 16, 2014

As the embattled head of the Veterans Affairs department testified in the Senate this week, lawmakers also explored reforming how veterans receive care. 

Reports that dozens of veterans died while waiting for care at a Phoenix V-A hospital has caused anger in lawmakers of all stripes. Some lawmakers are calling for a criminal probe, while others say the V-A needs a larger staff. Dan Dellinger of Vienna, Virginia is the national commander of the American Legion, which has called for the head of the V-A to resign. He says his group is open to allowing veterans to access private hospitals while the V-A attempts to process the hundreds of thousands of backlogged claims - but he says that could be more costly. 

“We wouldn’t be opposed to that because we want the best healthcare as fast as possible, but we also have to put a caveat on that that it can’t happen exceedingly because then there goes the entire budget, which is fee based which is higher in the private sector versus the ability in the VA.”

General Eric Shinseki, the head of the V-A, told lawmakers he plans to hold employees responsible for the persistent problems at the agency, but he says he's still awaiting an inspector general's report on the Phoenix hospital at the center of this latest firestorm.