President Barack Obama's vow to "fix whatever is wrong" with the Veterans Affairs Department is "wholly insufficient," Sen. John McCain
said, noting that he is glad Obama "finally saw fit" to speak about the growing scandal.
"While I am glad that after many weeks of refusing to acknowledge this widening scandal, President Obama finally saw fit to speak about it today, but his remarks are wholly insufficient in addressing the fundamental, systemic problems plaguing our veterans’ healthcare system," McCain said in a statement Wednesday.
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Obama on Wednesday
said any Veterans Affairs official responsible for delaying treatment for returning service members will be held accountable and that he’s ordered a top aide to make recommendations on fixing the troubled agency.
The VA inspector general is investigating reports that some facilities kept secret waiting lists for veterans seeking care, Obama said, to cover up failures to meet standards. Some veterans may have died while on the wait lists.
"If these allegations prove to be true, it is dishonorable, it is disgraceful, and I will not tolerate it, period," Obama said at the White House after a meeting with Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki and Deputy Chief of Staff Rob Nabors, who will be in Phoenix Thursday to oversee a review of the system there.
But McCain said the administration's response, or lack of one, has created a "crisis of confidence in our veterans’ community. We need answers, leadership and accountability, none of which we’ve seen from the Obama administration to date," he added.
The Arizona Republican, who is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, called for legislation to make it easier for VA officials to be fired from their jobs.
McCain has spoken out often after reports surfaced that 40 veterans died while waiting for healthcare services in the Phoenix VA system, reports Politico.
Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders, Vermont Independent, allowed McCain to participate in a hearing on the scandal last week, even though he isn't a member of that committee, because the scandal is centered in his state.
The number of VA facilities
being investigated for problems involving delays in treating patients has more than doubled to 26, according to the VA's Office of Inspector General.
Meanwhile, Obama is standing up for Shinseki, despite lawmakers' demands that he resign, saying he has been "a great soldier, and nobody cares more about our veterans."
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