Arkansas U.S. Sen. John Boozman is asking Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki for more information on wait times that Arkansas veterans face to receive medical care at VA facilities.
Boozman is a member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee but couldn't attend Thursday's hearing because he's recovering from heart surgery. In a letter, Boozman said a full analysis of the future of VA health care is needed.
Sen. Mark Pryor also said Thursday that the VA disability claims process needs "a complete overhaul."
Shinseki says he hopes to have a preliminary report soon on how widespread treatment delays and falsified patient scheduling reports are at VA facilities nationwide. The hearing in Washington follows allegations that up to 40 veterans may have died while awaiting treatment at a Phoenix VA center.
In a written statement to be placed in the official record of the Congressional hearing, Sen. Boozman wrote:
I understand that in most respects VA does provide good care, when and where it is actually available. Additionally, I know that employees in various roles at VA, like me, strongly support those who have served our nation in uniform and believe the federal government should uphold all of its promises to our veterans and extend the best timely care to them. However, as recent reports indicate, this is not happening. This is a clear access problem and warrants a full analysis of the future of VA healthcare as part of our effort at solving immediate problems. I have reservations about the ability of VA’s “face to face” audits to produce meaningful reform that will increase access for veterans and bring accountability to the process. I am supportive of rigorous oversight by this committee and I look forward to working with all of my colleagues on both the House and Senate Veterans’ Committees, in consultation with the Department of Veterans Affairs, to ensure that these systemic problems are fixed.
In a press release, Sen. Pryor also expressed great concern:
The VA needs more than a few minor changes to its flawed claims system—it needs a complete overhaul. Our bipartisan bill is a much-needed step to ensuring our veterans receive the benefits they’ve earned. I hope the Senate will take up and pass our bill immediately.