Reports of delays in healthcare treatment and secret wait lists at facilities run by the Department of Veterans Affairs have created a "national embarrassment," says Sen. John Thune.
In an effort to uncover the extent of the problem, Thune said he is sponsoring a bill asking the Inspector General to conduct an investigation into the issue. The delays allegedly have resulted in the deaths of as many as 40 veterans.
"The one thing we know is, this is a national embarrassment. These are the people who lay their lives on the line for us, the people who risk everything. They deserve better than second class healthcare treatment," the South Dakota Republican told Fox News' "Happening Now" Tuesday.
Whistleblowers have come forward with accusations of secret lists that obscured the actual times veterans had to wait to receive medical care through the VA. Thune called the issue involving VA facilities across the country a "systemic administration-wide problem."
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White House Press Secretary Jay Carney revealed
on Monday that President Barack Obama learned about the VA problems from the news media. Thune said if that was the case, questions needed to be asked about the administration's "accountability" and "responsibility" in managing healthcare for the nation's service personnel.
"These are the people, the men and women in uniform, who have served our country with great courage and distinction. And, to have them come back and to be exposed to these kind of problems at their healthcare facilities is just an outrage," Thune said.
"We ought to take this very seriously. If the president's not going to, we in Congress are," he added.
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