REED CONDEMNS “SECRET WAITING LISTS” AT PHOENIX VA
Tom Reed is keeping recent developments at a Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Phoenix, Arizona in the spotlight this week and calling for those responsible to be held accountable to the fullest extent. The VA Office of the Inspector General (IG) is currently conducting an investigation into serious allegations of patient neglect at the Phoenix VA hospital that more than 1,400 veterans were placed on a secret waiting list and more than 40 veterans died while waiting for care at the facility.
“I am outraged by the disturbing allegations of neglect within the Phoenix VA,” Reed said. “What appears to be a gross mishandling of thousands of our nation’s veterans’ health care is 100 percent unacceptable. Covering up unacceptable wait times that may have resulted in the death of more than 40 of our nation’s heroes is appalling. There is no excuse for holding the livelihood of those who keep us safe hostage.”
Immediately after news broke of the actions taking place in Phoenix, Reed spoke with Bath VA Medical Center Director Michael Swartz to personally confirm that such activities have not occurred at the local VA.
“I wanted to hear straight from the director that nothing like the neglect at the Phoenix VA was happening here in our backyard,” Reed said. “Director Swartz and I had a direct and frank conversation about our willingness to keep the lines of communication flowing as the Inspector General conducts its investigation.
“Our heroes deserve the best care possible and any delay of care is unacceptable. Veterans should never have to wait years – or even months – for the benefits they earned through serving our country. These actions will not be tolerated at any VA facility in the United States and I will be in touch with the VA hospitals serving the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes for confirmation from them their staffs are providing timely and truthful care.”
Reed is also working closely with the House Veterans Affairs Committee, the committee’s chairman Rep. Jeff Miller and calling on Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to ensure those responsible are held accountable. Reed is continuing outreach to other VA hospitals surrounding the 23rd district this week to share his concerns and confirm these waiting lists are not being replicated at our local VA hospitals.
Last week, Reed voted in support of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill to strengthen funding to end the veteran claims backlog and designate additional resources to upgrade the VA’s electronic health record system. Reed says the strengthened support is the fair way to stand with veterans and make sure they receive the care and services they have earned.
The most recent Census Bureau numbers estimate roughly 57,000 veterans reside in New York’s 23rd district.