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Toomey: “Basic Care Waiting Periods For Veterans Is Troubling”

Thursday, May 8
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Sen. Toomey has sent a letter to Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki requesting clarity on reports that delays for basic health care appointments are to blame in the deaths of at least 40 veterans in Phoenix, Ariz.

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) announced today that he sent a letter to Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki requesting clarity on reports that delays for basic health care appointments are to blame in the deaths of at least 40 veterans in Phoenix, Ariz. In his letter, Sen. Toomey also asks the Secretary if employees who failed to provide appropriate care will be held to account.

Sen. Toomey has made it a priority to ensure our veterans receive quality, timely health care.

His concern with alleged management lapses in Phoenix follow his engagement with the VA over lapses contributing to an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease at the Pittsburgh VA. The outbreak resulted in the deaths of local veterans.

Sen. Toomey's letter to Sec. Shinseki is below.

May 5, 2014

The Honorable Eric Shinseki
Secretary
Department of Veterans Affairs
810 Vermont Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20420

Dear Secretary Shinseki:

I write to express my concern regarding reports that numerous veterans are waiting months to receive even the most basic care at the Phoenix VA Health Care System. My information is that between 1,400 and 1,600 veterans have been waiting many months beyond the 30 day requirement for an appointment. There are also reports of "secret waitlists" documenting veterans' actual waiting period, which go unreported to the VA. The most troubling information is that, tragically, 40 or more of these veterans may have died waiting for an appointment with the VA.

The alleged number of affected veterans at this one facility is deeply disturbing. As you know, management shortfalls also led to the loss of life for veterans in the Pittsburgh VA system.

I would like to know how the veteran community can be assured that management shortfalls in the recent past leading to veteran deaths are prevented throughout the VA system. If the allegations of gross mismanagement at the Phoenix VA are found to be valid, I would like to know what judicial or administrative action the VA plans to take for those employees who so seriously failed to provide the appropriate level of care for our veterans.

Sincerely,

Pat Toomey
U.S. Senator

 

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