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Department of Veterans Affairs mired in controversy over patient care

It’s not just Social Security Disability and VA disability applications which are mired in a bureaucratic wasteland, taking months or years to process. Add patients who are treated through the Department of Veterans Affairs to the mix.

Department of Veterans Affairs Seal

USA Today reports high patient wait times and falsification of records has led to the resignation of the second in command at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Dr. Robert Petzel, the Department of Veterans Affairs undersecretary for health, has resigned amid the growing controversy, although this means very little since Petzel had already announced his 2014 retirement in September.

The resignation followed a day of contentious hearings before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee where the Chairman Jeff Miller argued the resignation was disingenuous since the doctor had already announced his retirement and the president was ready to appoint a replacement. Chairman Jeff Miller of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs likened the announcement to what he considered, “the pinnacle of disingenuous political doublespeak."

Who will take Robert Petzel’s place at Department of Veterans Affairs ?


According to an announcement made by the White House, Robert Petzel’s post will be filled by Dr. Jeffrey A. Murawsky, who has held various positions as a director of several different regions, specifically director of the Region 12 Veterans Integrated Service Network and director of seven-state Region 23, based in Minneapolis. The good doctor make approximately $237,000 per year in his position to direct the care of “about a million veterans in Illinois, Northwest Indiana, Michigan's Upper Peninsula and Wisconsin.”

Critics of the Department of Veterans Affairs and the recent appointment note that the Department of Veterans Affairs continues not to hold any of its leadership accountable for their negligence. The VA has also been criticized by one of Florida’s representative of “splitting semantic hairs to create the illusion of accountability and progress."

Wait times and Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals too long


At question is the veteran administration’s complete inability to improve the wait time for veteran’s to receive medical care. There has also been an allegation in Phoenix that up to forty veterans died while awaiting care at the Phoenix VA Health Care System. Hospital staff has also been accused of creating false documents to hide the wait times at this same location.

But the deceptive practices are not exclusive to the Phoenix facility. Other Department of Veterans Affairs facilities across the nation may have similar practices. In fact, problems have surfaced in VA facilities in ten additional states including Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, New Mexico, Texas and Wyoming.

Unfortunately, instead of trying to solve the problems and coming clean about lengthy wait times, the Department of Veterans Affairs has tried to cover up the crisis of ongoing patient-care delay.

Leaders within the VA, however, disagree. "As we know from the veteran community, most veterans are satisfied with the quality of their VA health care," Shinseki said. "But we must do more to improve the timely access to that care.”

According to an article by the Washington Times, “Veterans Affairs officials warned the Obama-Biden transition team in the weeks after the 2008 presidential election that the department shouldn’t trust the wait times that its facilities were reporting.”

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