Tags: veterans | affairs | hospitals | Eric Shinseki | probe

Wash. Examiner's Flatten: VA Scandal Is About Human Suffering

By Bill Hoffmann   |   Thursday, 15 May 2014 06:53 PM

Damning allegations that some Veterans Affairs hospitals covered up long waiting times for chronically-ill veterans is a scandal that transcends politics, says Mark Flatten, senior investigative reporter for The Washington Examiner.

"This is not a partisan issue.... Veterans are dying because of improper care," Flatten told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.

"That's not a Republican or Democratic issue, that is an unacceptable situation.''

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Doctors working at VA facilities in Phoenix say managers ordered them to place patients on a secret waiting list.

The patients remained on the list until appointments opened up on an official list in line with the VA's wait-time goals — delays that allegedly caused the deaths of 40 veterans.

U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, appearing before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee on Thursday, vowed a "timely'' response to the allegations, although some lawmakers called for his resignation.

"The members of the committee made [it] very clear today that we don't really care about the niceties here, that we're going to get to the bottom of this and you can't put us off, Mr. Secretary," Flatten said.

"He's outraged, he's determined to get to the bottom of it, he won't tolerate it — but when asked specifically what he's going to do about it, he kept coming back to the, well we'll have to see what the inspector general finds...."

The Phoenix facilities aren't the only ones facing scrutiny. There have been allegations of similar cover-ups at VA hospitals in other cities across the country.

"The reality is they don't know how many patients may have died because of delayed care,'' Flatten said.

The Washington Examiner has broken several stories on the scandal, including the revelation that more than 1.5 million backlogged orders for medical tests were mass canceled by VA officials without any assurance that veterans got the tests.

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