WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Obama should fire Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki and make it clear mismanagement of the veterans healthcare system truly won't be tolerated, U.S. Representative Martha Roby (R-AL) said today.
"Secretary Shinseki serves at the pleasure of the President," Rep. Roby said. "By allowing him to continue, President Obama sends precisely the wrong message that failure actually will be tolerated at the VA.
"The absence of accountability only begets a culture of complacency. President Obama must end that immediately by removing Secretary Shinseki and installing new leadership at the Department of Veterans Affairs."
Rep. Roby has called recent revelations of negligence, fraud and abuse at multiple VA medical facilities a "national outrage." Recent reports revealed that VA officials in multiple cities falsified data to hide long waiting lists for veterans health services. Meanwhile, veterans in need of treatment waited months for care, some dying while still on the "secret waiting list."
Rep. Roby has urged the Department to utilize its Patient-Centered Community Care (PCCC) program, which allows VA medical centers to contract with local, non-VA health care providers for services like mental health care or specialized treatment. Such fee-based programs could greatly improve access to care, especially in places where demand exceeds the local facility's resources or personnel.
"I hear from veterans everyday who are waiting on services from the VA. We know there is increased demand, so why not utilize this existing Patient Centered Community Care program to contract out services to local providers and get veteran patients the care they need. This is one way we can help eliminate long wait times and reduce costs for the VA."
Rep. Roby pushed for and succeeded at including language within the Fiscal Year 2015 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Committee Report directing the Department of Veterans Affairs to document the success and cost effectiveness of PCCC in order to establish the program as a viable alternative for more VA medical centers and more veteran patients.