An investigation is underway into allegations of excessive delays in medical care at V-A hospitals, some delays which have reportedly led to dozens of veterans’ deaths as they waited for treatment. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley is asking the inspector general of the Department of Veterans Affairs for an update on the investigation and details about how the probe is being conducted.
Grassley says, “I’m particularly anxious to confirm that the VA facilities that serve Iowans are not falsifying appointment records and Iowans are seen within a reasonable time.” Many thousands of Iowa veterans are undergoing treatment at V-A facilities in Iowa City, Des Moines, Omaha, Sioux Falls and at affiliated community clinics.
“I’m not aware of any current problems involving medical care or delays for Iowa veterans,” Grassley says, “though I hope that the inspector general’s review will be national since at least three states are alleged to have medical care delays.”
The worst of the reported problems are at V-A facilities in Arizona, Colorado and Texas. Some Senate Republicans are calling for the firing of V-A Secretary Eric Shinseki but Grassley, also a Republican, thinks that’s premature. “I don’t generally call for resignations unless it’s pretty darn convinced that at the top, that that’s the problem,” Grassley says. “I know the buck stops someplace but right now, I’m going to wait until the hearings are over to make that determination.”
The probe focused initially on a V-A clinic in Fort Collins, Colorado, where many of the 63-hundred veterans seeking treatment had waited several months to see a doctor. Allegations indicate records were changed if they showed a veteran had waited longer than 14 days to be seen. Another V-A facility in Phoenix, Arizona, reportedly had up to 40 patients die because of treatment delays.