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Kirkpatrick To Hold Hearings on Phoenix VA Deaths
(Washington, D.C.) Today, the Chairman of the House Veterans’ Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, U.S. Representative Mike Coffman (R-CO), and the ranking Democrat, Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ) announced that the Committee would hold a hearing on the recent allegations of preventable deaths of veterans who were patients at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital in Phoenix.
"We owe it to our veterans to get to the bottom of what happened in Phoenix," said Kirkpatrick. "If these allegations are true, this is appalling and unacceptable. And it's our job to ensure there is full accountability and that something like this never happens again.”
“If the allegations turn out to be true, that these veterans were unnecessarily dying from preventable illnesses that were left untreated, then whoever was involved in this scheme should not only be fired but criminally prosecuted,” said Coffman, a Marine Corps combat veteran.
The allegations center on a fraudulent scheme to show that wait times for appointments were being dramatically reduced so the management of the hospital could be awarded bonuses. However, allegations have surfaced by a retired physician who worked at the Phoenix VA hospital that a “secret” list was kept that showed the true wait times for appointments that was kept from public view.
The allegations state that a fraudulent list, showing much shorter appointment wait times, was the one made publically available and sent to superiors with the VA. The alleged “secret” list shows that wait times for appointments were so long that preventable illnesses, that were left untreated, caused the deaths of potentially up to 40 veterans who died from complications related to entirely preventable illnesses.
The House Veterans Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee has been looking into similar allegations of tampering with appointment records in other VA healthcare facilities across the country but so far, according to the subcommittee’s investigators, the allegations in Phoenix appear to be far worse than the others.
“These allegations are symptomatic of a fundamental lack of leadership at the VA on a wide range of issues that my subcommittee has looked into and a culture that seems to accept an environment of incompetence, fraud, and neglect when it comes to taking care of our nation’s veterans,” said Coffman.
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