Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley is questioning the head of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs about reports of inconsistent inspection practices and a lack of quality controls at veterans homes nationwide.
“It’s not directed just to any specific instances,” Grassley says. “It’s kind of an accumulation of a lot of concerns we’ve had.” Those concerns include the pandemic and reports that show more than 14-hundred residents and staff of VA homes nationwide have died of COVID-19. The VA spends about one billion dollars a year on state-run homes for veterans. The homes are only required to do one annual safety inspection.
“Since there’s a lot of tax dollars goes into this,” Grassley says, “we have a responsibility to make those tax dollars keep our promises to our veterans.” Grassley, a Republican, says it appears the standard of care at many state veterans homes “falls well short” of those required by other government-supported nursing homes. He says, “Americans deserve answers and our veterans deserve better.”
“The lack of oversight by the VA seems to be a problem that’s not being carried out the way it should be,” Grassley says. “This is a letter to get answers to some specific questions.” A POLITICO report says nearly 14-hundred V-A residents and 40 staff have died from COVID-19 in 110 state veterans homes.
In the worst case, 110 deaths were reported at a 126-bed veterans home in New York. It’s unclear how many veterans, if any, have died from COVID at the Iowa Veterans Home. This summer, it was reported that two residents of the home in Marshalltown who were housed in the COVID unit had died. IVH officials said both veterans had “significantly compromised health conditions” and thus, they weren’t listed as COVID deaths.