Media coverage continues to grow over reports of veterans dying while waiting for medical care. CNN reported that 40 veterans died while waiting for medical care at a Veterans' Administration hospital in Phoenix, Arizona. Hospital administrators had falsified veterans appointment backlog records and according to earlier news reports, these practices had occurred at VA facilities in Georgia, South Carolina, Texas and Florida. In another report, it is also alleged that administrators used falsified backlog records to secure bonus pay for themselves. In 2011, the VA paid out $194 million in bonuses.
Former VA Secretary Anthony Principi told Fox News Channel's Megyn Kelly that the act of manipulating wait lists is possibly criminal. Judge Jeanine of Fox News used the term "criminally negligent homicide"
Over the past two days, I have appeared on four radio stations, WSMN Nashua, WGIR Manchester, WNTK New London, and WCBM in the Baltimore/Washington region to talk about the bigger story not yet being covered: The U.S. Senate has been aware of similar problems for over two years. In April of 2012 Nicholas Tolentino, who was an administrator at the VA Medical Center in Manchester, NH, testified to the Veterans' Affairs Committee that it had become practice in several states for some VA administrators to cheat taxpayers out of millions in pay bonuses for falsifying veterans’ health care wait-list records.
Shocked by this testimony, the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairperson said, "This is not something we're going to hold a hearing on and then leave and go do something else... I don't want to continue to hear that anybody's gaming this system."
Unfortunately, nothing was ever done. It's now clear that culpability for failure to address this unpardonable mistreatment of our veterans extends beyond VA administrators to a certain U.S. Senator who heard the 2012 testimony and who failed to force action.
That Senator was Scott Brown, who served on the Veterans' Affairs Committee and was present at the Tolentino hearing. Senator Brown called the damning testimony 'mind-boggling', holding up documents showing how one veteran had committed suicide while on the delayed-care waiting list.
New Hampshire citizens are sick and tired of Washington politicians who provide sound bites but no solutions. Rather than standing up for veterans, holding responsible those accountable for the corruption, and forcing immediate change so that our veterans were receiving the care they needed, Scott Brown failed to lead and left the problem unresolved.It turns my stomach that government employees might be profiting while our heroes are dying waiting for the healthcare we owe them. Those responsible for this vile and heartless abuse of our veterans must be rooted out and held fully and publicly accountable.
Until this is fixed, veterans on these extended wait lists must be given vouchers to obtain the care they deserve at the hospital or provider of their choice.