AUDIO: Senators Want Review Of Indiana VA Facilities
By Mike Perleberg
(Washington, D.C.) – In the wake of a national Veterans Administration scandal, Indiana’s U.S. Senators are again asking for a review of wait times at the state’s VA facilities.
Senators Joe Donnelly, a Democrat, and Dan Coats, a Republican, had submitted a letter to former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki on May 20, following revelations that veterans – placed on a secret wait list – died while awaiting care at the Phoenix VA Health Care System. 1,700 veterans in need of care were at risk of being forgotten about.
Shinseki never got around to responding to the senators’ request. He resigned last week under pressure from the scandal.
The Hoosier state senators will submit another request to acting VA secretary Sloan Gibson on Thursday.
“On behalf of nearly 500,000 Hoosier veterans, we ask that you immediately verify and report to us on the status of wait times and the use of unauthorized scheduling practices throughout Indiana,” the letter states, according to the Associated Press.
Donnelly is trying to get a handle on what issues by be present in Indiana’s VA facilities. He visited VA facilities in Indianapolis and northern Indiana last week.
“We’re going through every scrap of paper that we can find just to make sure we’re meeting our obligations,” Donnelly told Eagle 99.3 Thursday.
He said he’s not come across any evidence of waiting list manipulation in Indiana, but he has seen wait times that are too long. He credited those delays to lack of doctors and facilities.
“If we make a promise of 14 days, that it has to be kept. Period. If we’re not hitting it, we have to figure out how to do it,” the senator said.
The Indianapolis Star has reported that the VA hospital in Indianapolis has an average wait of 42 days, more than triple the two-week goal.
Donnelly, who is in his first term in the Senate, said the fix of the VA’s problems need to go beyond Shinseki’s resignation. He says the demands on the VA healthcare system – with a new generation of veterans to be treated for both physical and mental problems – will only increase.
“Whatever the demand is today, it’s going to be even more next year and the following year. We have to get this thing running right on time, right on schedule every single day,” Donnelly said.