Hatch pushes Veterans Affairs for answers on Veterans’ care

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch wrote to Eric Shinseki, secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Friday to seek answers about alleged mismanagement and inappropriate practices within the VA Health Care System. Citing recent media reports that such practices may have led to patient deaths at VA facilities in Phoenix, Arizona, Hatch asked Shinseki a series of direct questions about policies and procedures at the George E. Wahlen Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Salt Lake City, and ten Community Clinics throughout Utah, Idaho, and Nevada that make up the VA Salt Lake City Health Care System.

In the letter, Hatch wrote: “With close to 50,000 unique patients dependent each year on the VA Salt Lake City Health Care System … I express serious concerns over recent media reports indicating alleged mismanagement and inappropriate practices within the Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care System.”

Further, Hatch wrote: “In the pursuit of full transparency and proper accounting, I would like an update regarding the VA’s current practices and procedures. I want to ensure that veterans in the State of Utah and throughout our country can trust the VA system with timely and appropriate care.”

A signed copy of the letter Hatch sent can be viewed here, and the full text of the letter is below:

The Honorable Eric Ken Shinseki
Secretary of Veteran Affairs
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
810 Vermont Avenue, Northwest
Washington, DC 20420

Dear Mr. Secretary:

With close to 50,000 unique patients dependent each year on the VA Salt Lake City Health Care System (VASLCHCS), which consists of the George E. Wahlen Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center and ten Community Clinics throughout Utah, Idaho, and Nevada, I express serious concerns over recent media reports indicating alleged mismanagement and inappropriate practices within the Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care System.

As I understand, a VA Inspector General (IG) investigation has been initiated into allegations regarding possible neglect or mismanagement, which may have led to patient deaths at VA facilities in Phoenix, Arizona. Additionally, you have called for an internal audit of access to care of all VA facilities, to ensure full compliance with existing VA policies and processes.  I support these actions and request for your continued oversight into resolving neglect or mismanagement within the VA.

In the pursuit of full transparency and proper accounting, I would like an update regarding the VA’s current practices and procedures. I want to ensure that veterans in the State of Utah and throughout our country can trust the VA system with timely and appropriate care. Specifically, I request your assistance in the following matters:

  1. A reporting on the VA’s existing efforts to prevent future neglect of fast and reliable care, at each of Utah’s VA facilities;
  2. A detailed description of the VA’s electronic waitlist program, and an update of VASLCHCS proficiency of its electronic waitlist program;
  3. An update and timeframe of the VA IG investigation into allegations regarding mismanagement at the Phoenix, Arizona VA Medical Center; and
  4. Any additional information you deem necessary in demonstrating the VA’s ability to provide quality and timely care to Utah’s Veterans.

I fully understand the complexity of the VA system, in operating the largest integrated health care delivery system in America. However, despite the size and scope of the organization, I firmly believe in holding the VA accountable to, as stated in the “Secretary’s Letter” accompanied with the submitted Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) 2013 Performance and Accountability Report, to:

“…continue to improve the quality of our programs and service delivery, optimize our efficiency, and exceed expectations of Veterans, their families, and Survivors. Every VA employee is charged to be an advocate for Veterans. We are all committed to providing Veterans and their families with the very best health care and services. The Nation has depended on our Veterans, and VA’s employees want Veterans to know they can depend on VA.”

Thank you for your attention to my request. I look forward to your assistance on these matters at your earliest convenience.

Sincerely,

(end)

Submitted by the Offices of Orrin Hatch

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3 Comments

  • JimS May 17, 2014 at 8:32 am

    Congress does the ‘will of the people’, and the people like ‘free wars’, so patriotic, and to ignore the results from, unless it;’s so patriotic to slam, conservative ideology, the VA their responsibility!!!

    “Why in 2009 were we still using paper?” VA Assistant Secretary Tommy Sowers “When we came in, there was no plan to change that; we’ve been operating on a six month wait for over a decade.” 27 March 2013

    WHY? GOOD QUESTION THOSE SERVED SHOULD ANSWER, added to the past decades and wars of the ignoring of many issues along with the denying they exist! Think PTS, Agent Orange and Desert Storms Gulf War Syndrom, to name but only a very few, most now being addressed under This VA and Executive branch even though grossly, decades and wars from, under funded!!

    The real scandal is those Served have yet to Sacrifice, DeJa-Vu all over again:
    The same lawmakers now subpoening, and with their flag waving patriots(?) supporting, that rubber stamped the two wars, and all related, costs off the books and on the credit card, quickly abandoning the missions and those sent after 9/11, while doing extremely little for not only the veterans of but also us previous veterans and from the decades and wars before, while once again under a conservative led VA, DeJa-Vu!!

    Sixth District Congressional candidate Seth Moulton: “Congress has made ‘travesty’ of veterans care” 05/14/2014

    Conservative Veterans Affairs Ideology, Fire Gen. Shinseki, because unlike conservative administrations he’s actually fighting to build the VA the country should have always had, and he’s got the backing and help from this entire executive cabinet, again unlike conservative administrations and conservative congresses!!

    Just what the conservative, in this case the Always reactive and not proactive for vets, the legion, with their grossly over paid executives, ideology wants, Get rid of one that’s doing the job and in this case with help from the entire cabinet, hired to do, just as the conservatives in congress want,

    “If military action is worth our troops’ blood, it should be worth our treasure, too” “not just in the abstract, but in the form of a specific ante by every American.” -Andrew Rosenthal 10 Feb. 2013

    They were Jubilant when conservatives controlled congress and the bush fired the General for being Honest, now their call is being picked up through one of the so called established Veterans organization the American Legion! All were praising the VA during that time, of total conservative control, even though extremely little was being done as the long ignored veterans issues were still being ignored while two more wars, and long occupations from, were being rubber stamped as to costs, still unpaid for, and these younger veterans were joining our veterans community seeking the commitment the Country promises and the Country waved flags, and other symbols, of that ‘patriotic’ commitment only, DeJa-Vu all over again! Their long want is to privatize government agencies for corporate profit, much more costly, and unregulated running of, just like their national security wars!

    TX-19 Congressional Candidate Neal Marchbanks – Veteran: 28 March 2014 – “Congress controls the budget for the VA and it is the fault of Congress that the VA does not have enough employees and that the facilities are too small.”
    Congress, in Veteran Marchbanks statement, are the people served and who representatives work for, or are supposed to!

    “12 years also is a long time. We now have a lifetime responsibility to a generation of service members, veterans and their families.” Dr. Jonathan Woodson 11 Sep. 2013: ‘With 9/11 Came Lifetime Responsibility’ {two tax cuts, especially huge for the wealthy, with not a bit of guilt conscious for, came with these two recent unpaid for wars, nor the results of, DeJa-Vu all over again from the previous decades and wars from! Ignore the many issues, by those served, no need to fund!}

    USN All Shore ’67-’71 GMG3 Vietnam In Country ’70-’71 – Independent

  • JimS May 17, 2014 at 8:33 am

    “Lets not treat these Vets like Vietnam Vets”

    That’s what the whole country served said about us Vietnam Veterans and the now OEF and OIF Veterans right from the beginning!!

    Then they quickly cheered on abandoning the missions and those sent to accomplish after 9/11! They started slapping on magnetic ‘support the troops’ symbols all over which quickly just plain disappeared! Then the talk was about everyone, elected officials especially, should be wearing lapel flag pins, I don’t even pay attention whether they do or don’t knowing they’re not ‘supporting’ anyone who Actually Sacrifices, and that includes public servants of all stripes! They loves waving them ‘patriotic’ flags and think they’re more ‘patriotic’ then many others! Then they want Parades and complain because we have yet had a Ticker Tape NYC parade, even though the abandoned 9/11 missions is still ongoing but finally winding down! They loves passing around the cute video’s of returning soldiers surprising their kids and families! And on and on and on!

    But None Of That Is Sacrificing as in Paying For Wars and Especially the Decades To Follow Results From!!!

    DeJa-Vu all over again!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • cranky May 17, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    this article is wasted time on paper about a senator that has done absolutely
    nothing for the people of Utah but fatten his friends and his own pockets .
    Crowing like a chicken showing everybody that still believes his bull.
    Corruption continues. land of the free and home of the brave

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