Reports of problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs involving secret wait lists and delayed healthcare for patients will likely get worse as whistleblowers grow more comfortable with coming forward, Rep. Jeff Miller said.
Miller, R-Fla., chairs the House Veterans Affairs Committee, which has been investigating treatment delays and claims that as many as 40 veterans died while awaiting care at a VA facility in Phoenix. He said one of the main problems was that, of the 330,000 VA employees, "a lot of people just don't know what's going on inside the agency."
"I can guarantee you this, there's more to come," Miller told CNN's "New Day" on Tuesday. "I think it's going to get worse, and I think people need to be prepared for that."
"We have whistleblowers all across the country now that feel comfortable and safe coming out and telling us that they have, in fact, been pressured by their superiors to cook the books. And, in some cases, it appears that they've been told to hide people who have died while on the waiting list," he added.
Miller said the probe extends beyond the Phoenix hospital and now includes "well over 60 facilities." He said the Federal Bureau of Investigation has indicated it is "launching a criminal investigation" because some employees may have broken the law.
Some of the VA's problems could be due to bloat among midlevel management, Miller suggested, adding that the agency did not appear to have direction in administering services to veterans.
"It basically became a rudderless ship, whereas it was running itself," he said. "These are people that grew up in the system, they knew each other. And, so, they are less likely to hold each other accountable. And, unfortunately, that's gotten us where we are today."
Miller said Congress was attempting to "unravel" who knew what in order to make decisions about accountability for the problems at the VA. He said a bill he sponsored that was passed in the House would enable the VA secretary to "fire senior managers who will not or refuse to do their job."
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