Scarborough: Sen. Tester's Support of VA a 'Remarkable Disconnect'

Wednesday, 14 May 2014 10:23 AM

By Wanda Carruthers

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Talk show host Joe Scarborough and Montana Democratic Sen. John Tester don't see eye to eye on the scandal about secret wait lists for those seeking healthcare at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Tester, who is a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Wednesday that he didn't believe VA Secretary Eric Shinseki should resign and spoke in hearty support of the activities of the agency.

"If you take a look at some of the positive things that's happened in the VA, and there's a lot to talk about from a positive standpoint, I think that they've done a pretty remarkable job," Tester said.

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Scarborough, who is a former Florida Republican congressman, countered, "There are a lot of veterans that would take exception" to the statement that the VA "was doing a pretty good job." Tester said he disagreed.

"I am not a veteran. But, I've talked to veterans. And I can tell you, almost without exception, they truly appreciate the VA. They like the healthcare that it offers," Tester responded.

The VA is embroiled in a scandal that began at the agency's hospital facility in Phoenix. Whistleblowers came forward and reported that administration officials kept secret wait lists that delayed treatment, and claimed up to 40 veterans died while awaiting care.

Further reports suggested the problem could be nationwide.

Tester maintained the VA "absolutely" needed to see improvements, but said it was "in vogue right now to politicize everything that's going on with the VA."

"What has Congress done? Well, we've had sequestration, and we've had shutdowns. And, we've given anything but certainty to the VA," Tester said.

After the interview, Scarborough was nearly at a loss for words in response to Tester's hearty support for the VA in light of the current scandal.

"That is one of most remarkable disconnects, political disconnects, from a guy who I've always respected," Scarborough said. "I talk to veterans all the time that wonder why Shinseki should still be there. They are killing vets in Phoenix. They are cooking the books. I don't know if . . . [Tester is] lobbying for another facility in his state. I don't understand that," he added.

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