MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Oklahoma News

June 15, 2014

Coburn says report will expose more problems at VA

— OKLAHOMA CITY — A U.S. senator from Oklahoma claims that a new report will expose more weaknesses at Veterans Affairs Department hospitals, including disappearing doctors and staff members.

U.S. Sen Tom Coburn delivered the national Republican radio address on Saturday, The Oklahoman reported. Coburn focused on the problems encountered by the nation’s veterans in getting treatment, or even appointments.

“But the problems at the VA are far deeper than scheduling,” Coburn said in the weekly GOP address. “Getting to see a doctor, after all, does not guarantee quality care. Just like the VA is cooking the books to make wait times appear shorter, the department is also glossing over the growing number of hospitals with poor medical outcomes.”

Coburn co-authored legislation addressing a wide range of problems at VA hospitals and in the health care system. That bill cleared the House and Senate last week.

Among the provisions championed by Coburn are ones that would allow veterans to see any physician or visit any hospital if they live more than 40 miles from a VA hospital or cannot get a timely appointment at one.

“VA hospitals serve an important and unique role but veterans should be allowed to choose where, when and from whom they receive treatment,” Coburn said.

Coburn faulted Congress for not conducting proper oversight of the VA even after investigative reports exposed systemic failures.

And he called on President Barack Obama to nominate a Veterans Affairs secretary “who possesses the management skills, leadership ability and determination to correct the failings of the VA.”

Obama’s first VA Secretary, Eric Shinseki, resigned last month amid an uproar over long wait times and falsified data about those wait times at some VA hospitals.

Coburn and his staff have been digging into VA problems for years. The senator said s report will be released by his office next week that “exposes a culture within the VA where vets are not always a priority and in which administrators manipulate both data and employees to give the appearance that all is well.”

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