President Obama on Wednesday will deliver his first remarks about allegations that veterans died while waiting to access care at VA hospitals.
Obama is scheduled to give his statement at 10:45 a.m., after a meeting with Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki. The White House said earlier this week that Obama "has confidence" in Shinseki. Obama's chief of staff, Denis McDonough, said Sunday that the president is "madder than hell" about the allegations.
The American Legion, the nation's largest veterans organization, has called for Shinseki's resignation. Shinseki, a former Army chief of staff, testified before Congress last week and said he is "mad as hell" about the allegations.
This week Obama dispatched one of his closest advisers, Rob Nabors, to oversee a review of the Department of Veterans Affairs. The department's inspector general is also looking into the allegations. Nabors is being sent to Phoenix, where allegations have surfaced that a VA hospital there created a secret list to hide the fact that veterans had to wait months to access care. According to a CNN report, at least 40 patients died while waiting to see a doctor.
According to a report by USA Today, a VA clinic in Fort Collins, Colo., also faked records to make it appear as though doctors were seeing a certain number of patients each day. The allegations come on top of revelations about a backlog of disability claims at the VA.
WFOR-TV in Miami reported Wednesday that a whistleblower from a VA hospital there claims the hospital operated under a culture of negligence and that drug dealing was rampant.
In an interview with our colleague Juliet Eilperin on Tuesday, McDonough said the administration welcomes “the oversight and tough questioning” it has received on the recent VA allegations. “We will dig in to find out exactly what those allegations are, whether they reflect a systemic challenge, whether they reflect a series of isolated challenges, and we will address them in either case,” McDonough said.