WASHINGTON, DC - House Republican leaders sent President Obama a letter today saying the resignation of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Eric Shinseki does not address the systemic problems plaguing the VA and requesting that the president take immediate action to address the scandal, including “publicly call[ing] on Senate Democrats to reconsider their obstruction” of the Department of Veterans Affairs Management Accountability Act, which the House passed overwhelmingly last month.
The letter also states that the VA’s failure to provide the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee with timely information is “unacceptable and unnecessary” and asks President Obama to “direct the VA to cooperate with the House and Senate as both chambers conduct the necessary oversight.”
Third, your administration has proposed to “triage” 1,700 veterans who are waiting for care in Phoenix, Arizona. In light of the systemic nature of this problem, however, how will you address veterans who are waiting for care across the country? All veterans on waiting lists should be able to easily access care outside the VA without waiting for a potentially corrupt facility to approve their request. Our veterans should not be left in limbo, relying on what your own audit acknowledges is a “systemic lack of integrity within some Veterans Health Administration facilities.” In the House, Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller is introducing legislation that would give any veteran unable to obtain an appointment within 30 days the option to receive non-VA care. We ask that you support this proposal, or offer an immediate, effective alternative.
Warning that none of these steps “are a substitute for long-term solutions,” the letter asks President Obama if he is “willing to do whatever it takes…to ensure our veterans get the care we owe them, even if it means shaking up the current bureaucracy and rethinking the entire system?”
NOTE: The letter, which can be read here, is signed by Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), and Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA).