President Barack Obama needs to be held accountable for the ongoing Veterans Affairs scandal, House Speaker John Boehner says, and he needs to take charge and show leadership as more problems unfold.
The House Committee on Veterans' Affairs sent a letter
to VA Secretary Eric Shenseki in 2013 about a Government Accountablity Office report that addressed problems
with backlogs at the nations' VA facilities," but the woes continued to grow.
“The real issue here is that the president is the one who should be held accountable," Boehner said during a Thursday press conference. "And for the president to say he didn’t know anything about it is rather shocking And so the president is going to have to step up here and show some real leadership.”
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An interim report
released by the VA Inspector General confirms Republican warnings that the agency's problems are "systemic," Boehner's office said in a statement.
"Our reviews at a growing number of VA medical facilities have thus far provided insight into the current extent of these inappropriate scheduling issues throughout the VA health care system and have confirmed that inappropriate scheduling practices are systemic throughout VHA," the statement quotes the interim report as saying.
reports VA investigators are now examining 42 medical facilities nationwide in connection with delays in delivering healthcare, rising sharply from 26 providers last week and 10 the week before that.
“We need to figure out how we’re going to get the bottom of all of the problems at the VA," said Boehner. "This is more than just about phony waiting lists. This is also about the quality of care that we provide for our veterans. There is a serious problem here and we need to get the bottom of it before we begin to prescribe what the diagnosis is for treatment to fix the problem.”
On Wednesday, Boehner called for Obama to support a House bill that will make it easier to fire or demote senior VA staff workers, and criticized the Democratic-run Senate for blocking the bill, even though 160 House Democrats had voted for it.
"Instead of waffling, the president should support this bill, and call on Senate Democrats to pass it immediately,” Boehner said. “The president has made a lot of promises to our veterans. It’s time for him to start keeping them.”
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