The scandal at the Department of Veterans Affairs, in which patients died while waiting to see a doctor and which was covered up with fake waiting lists, is not new, says Pete Hegseth, CEO of Concerned Veterans for America.
"If anyone's talked to a veteran at the grassroots level, they've been saying this for years. This is not a new problem," Hegseth told J.D. Hayworth on "America's Forum" on Newsmax TV
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"It just took allegations of veterans literally dying while waiting or dying while receiving poor care for people to wake up and realize that this is a national crisis," he said.
"We're glad folks are coming around to the realization, but it's long overdue," he said.
Hegseth cites government involvement in healthcare as the root of the problem.
"This is top-down, government-run, single-payer healthcare manifesting itself before our eyes, which leads to de facto rationing, leads to wait times, leads to bureaucracy, clerks making decisions that doctors should be making," he said.
"This is symptomatic of what government does when it tries to deliver things inefficiently and poorly, so this poor care that we're talking about today is a predictable result of that," Hegseth said.
Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma released a report Tuesday that found that more than 1,000 veterans may have died in the last 10 years because of malpractice or lack of care at VA hospitals, CNN
Hegseth said the report "is validating what whistleblowers have been saying, what doctors have been saying, what clerks have been saying, what veterans have been saying."
The Iraq veteran said that for things to change at the VA, there needs to be more accountability of VA employees.
"It's an infected system," he said. "In order to change it, you've got to go down to the roots and change the culture, and thankfully, there's some legislation out there."
"We're trying to keep it as focused as possible on accountability, so that people can be fired because no one has been fired. It's nearly impossible to fire an employee at the Department of Veterans Affairs," Hegseth said.
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