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GOP Rips VA Chief's Disney Comments: 'Nothing Amusing About' Department

Image: GOP Rips VA Chief's Disney Comments: 'Nothing Amusing About' Department
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald (Getty Images) 

By    |   Monday, 23 May 2016 05:58 PM

Republicans Monday recoiled at Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald's comparison of wait times for veterans at VA centers to those for rides at Disney theme parks, with Florida Rep. Jeff Miller saying that "there is nothing amusing about VA's performance over the past few years.

"Comparing VA wait times to those of an amusement park is just plain wrong," said Miller, who is chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. "Wait times are of critical importance to the veterans waiting for VA medical care — and they should be to Secretary Bob McDonald as well.

"In fact, the VA scandal over fraudulent wait times, in which department officials cooked the books in order to make excessive waits for medical care appear shorter, is precisely why McDonald is now VA secretary.

"Unfortunately, nearly two years after McDonald took over at VA, the department’s wait-time rhetoric doesn’t match up with the reality of veterans' experiences," Miller said.

At a breakfast sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor in Washington Monday, McDonald told reporters that the VA should not measure wait times because Disney does not.

"When you go to Disney, do they measure the number of hours you wait in line?" McDonald posed. "Or what's important?

"What's important is, 'What's your satisfaction with the experience?' " he said.

He said that measurement, based on customer satisfaction, was his objective.

"What I would like to move to, eventually, is that kind of measure," McDonald said.

Measuring wait times by "create date" was not valid, he added. Create-date measuring begins on the day a veteran first calls to make an appointment.

Just last month, USA Today reported that VA centers in at least seven states had falsified how long patients had to wait.

The General Accounting Office found that 60 of 180 newly enrolled veterans had not had medical appointments by the time its report was published in April — and almost half had no appointments at all.

Congress passed legislation in 2014 requiring greater accountability by the VA, but the agency has remained under fire for dismissing few top officials in light of the debacle, as well for making little progress in decreasing wait times.

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump took to Twitter to express his outrage:


So did Illinois GOP Rep. Rodney Davis:


Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus called McDonald's observation "ludicrous" — adding that it "shows the leadership crisis at the VA is far from being solved.

"Up to 307,000 veterans have reportedly died waiting for care due to corruption and mismanagement at the VA, so it is astonishing that VA Secretary Robert McDonald would suggest wait times don’t need to be measured," Priebus said.

"Our veterans deserve better — and Hillary Clinton’s claim that problems at the VA are not 'widespread' shows she is clearly not the answer," he added. "Until Democrats stop protecting government union bosses and corrupt bureaucrats, this will sadly continue to be a problem for our veterans who have sacrificed so much for our country."

Miller, who is in his eighth term in the House, noted that "only a handful of employees" were fired in the VA scandal while "letting the bulk of those behind its nationwide delays-in-care scandal off with no discipline or weak slaps on the wrist.

"I am not at all surprised these problems persist," Miller said. "Until the department takes steps to remove all who caused VA's wait-time manipulation problems from the payroll, efforts to reform the agency will never succeed."

Iowa Rep. David Young relayed a recent conversation with a veteran over wait times.

" 'I'm tired of being thanked for my service,'" Young said the serviceman told him. " 'I just want the benefits I was promised.'

"We must do more for our veterans — they deserve better," he said.

Tea Party Patriots co-founder and CEO Jenny Beth Martin said that anyone who could not see the difference between VA and Disney wait times "is a moron.

"I can't remember the last time I heard about someone dying while waiting in line to get into 'Space Mountain' or 'It's a Small World,'" Martin said. "If the lines are too long at Disneyland, you cut back on the number of rides you enjoy that day.

"If the lines are too long at the VA, veterans die."

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Republicans Monday recoiled at Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald's comparison of wait times for veterans at VA centers to those for rides at Disney theme parks, with Florida Rep. Jeff Miller saying that "there is nothing amusing about VA's performance over the past few years.
republicans, reaction, veterans, affairs, chief, comments, disney, wait, times
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2016-58-23
Monday, 23 May 2016 05:58 PM
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