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VA Chief Shinseki Apologizes And Says He Is Replacing Leadership At Troubled Phoenix VA Hospital

Two days after a preliminary Inspector General report confirmed secret waiting lists at a Phoenix veterans hospital, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki addresses a conference on homeless veterans and says the breach of integrity “is indefensible.” He meets today with President Obama amid calls for his resignation in Congress.

The New York Times: Shinseki Apologizes For ‘Lack of Integrity’ At V.A. Hospitals
The secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki, apologized to veterans and lawmakers on Friday for the agency’s mismanagement of the nation’s veterans hospitals as he prepared to meet with President Obama, his job on he line, over the widening scandal. “After Wednesday’s release of an interim inspector general report, we now know that V.A. has a systemic, totally unacceptable lack of integrity within some of our veterans’ health facilities,” Mr. Shinseki told a conference of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans. “That breach of integrity is irresponsible, it is indefensible and it is unacceptable to me,” he said (Shear and Joachim, 5/30).

Politico: Eric Shinseki: VA Problems ‘Indefensible’
After his remarks, Shinseki said he wanted to “address the elephant in the room” and laid out what he said were the next steps to resolve the scandal. … But Shinseki said VA has shown before that it can solve difficult problems. He said he would remove the leadership at the Phoenix VA hospital, where the scandal began; suspend bonuses for some VA senior leaders for 2014 and endorse legislation backed by Senate Veterans Affairs’ Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) that would make it easier to fire some employees (Ewing, 5/30).

Los Angeles Times: VA Chief Eric Shinseki Pledges Urgent Healthcare Fixes
Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki called in leaders of key veterans groups Thursday and pledged to keep VA hospitals open nights and weekends if necessary to set up speedy appointments for veterans whose long waits for medical care have triggered a growing crisis at the massive agency (Simon and Hennessey-Fiske, 5/29).

The Wall Street Journal: VA’s Eric Shinseki Under Fire Amid Scandal
During his 38-year military career, Eric Shinseki recovered from losing half of his right foot to a land mine in Vietnam, went on to be awarded the Bronze Star for valor in combat and became the Army’s chief of staff. His latest battle is to stave off bipartisan criticism long enough to rehabilitate the Department of Veterans Affairs after a report Wednesday that swayed many of his former supporters in Congress to begin calling for his resignation (Kesling and Nissenbaum, 5/29).

The New York Times: Doctor Shortage Is Cited In Delays At V.A. Hospitals
Appalled by what she saw, Dr. Hollenbeck filed a whistle-blower complaint and changed jobs. A subsequent investigation by the Department of Veterans Affairs concluded last fall that indeed the Jackson hospital did not have enough primary care doctors, resulting in nurse practitioners’ handling far too many complex cases and in numerous complaints from veterans about delayed care. “It was unethical to put us in that position,” Dr. Hollenbeck said of the overstressed primary care unit in Jackson. “Your heart gets broken” (Oppei and Goodnough, 5/29). 

ABC News: Shinseki Meets With Veterans Groups, No Sign of Resigning 
One day after the bombshell interim Inspector General report showing “secret waiting lists” at a Phoenix veterans hospital, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki met with leading veteran service organizations today. The embattled secretary, who faces an ever-growing list of lawmakers asking for his resignation, showed no signs he has plans to leave anytime soon, despite a growing outcry fueled by the report, which showed that as many as 1,700 veterans in need of care were “at risk of being lost or forgotten” by not being placed on the official waiting list (Marshall and Larotonda, 5/29).

The Washington Post: Calls For VA Secretary Eric Shinseki To Resign Intensify Following Watchdog Report
Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki made an impassioned case Thursday to Democratic lawmakers and veterans groups that he can repair the Department of Veterans Affairs, even as calls for his resignation mounted and support from the White House appeared to wane. The White House skirted questions about whether President Obama still has confidence in Shinseki’s ability to lead the department and a spokesman said the president is withholding judgment about who is responsible for the department’s failings until he reviews pending investigations of what went wrong (Jaffe and O’Keefe, 5/29).

Kaiser Health News: FAQ: VA And Military Care Are Different, But Often Confused
It’s not just veterans who are having trouble with health care. Now the health system for active duty military is under the microscope, too. Longstanding issues with an overburdened system for caring for the nation’s veterans have burst into the news recently, particularly with allegations of fraudulent record-keeping to hide the size of the waiting list for care at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care System (Rovner, 5/29).

The Associated Press: Q &A: How Do US Veterans Get Health Care? 
The Department of Veterans Affairs, which oversees pensions, education, health care and other benefits for veterans and their families, faces allegations about treatment delays and falsified records at its hospitals around the country. The aging network of hospitals and clinics — the VA opened its first new medical center in 17 years in 2012 — is one of the world’s largest integrated health care systems (5/30).

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