The Under Secretary of Veterans Affairs for Health told a U.S. Senate committee this morning that the department's own review of allegations surrounding the Phoenix VA system has revealed "no evidence" of a secret waiting list.
A retired VA doctor from Phoenix has claimed that there is a secret waiting list to hide wait times, and that 40 veterans have died while on this secret waiting list.
Dr. Robert Petzel, who oversees the Veterans Health Administration, told the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs today that "a team" from his administration has found no evidence to support those claims so far.
"To date, we found no evidence of a secret list," Petzel said. "We have found no patients who have died because they have been on a wait list."
While this "team" came to Phoenix to investigate these claims, it's not the same investigation that's being carried out by the VA's inspector general. There has been no public update on what the inspector general has discovered, and there's going to be a full hearing before the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs once that inspector general's report is released.
The committee hearing today was on the topic of overmedication, but committee chairman Senator Bernie Sanders had Petzel make some brief comments on the situation in Phoenix before they focused on the medication issue.
"We think it's very important that the inspector general to be allowed to finish their investigation before we rush to judgment," Petzel said. "If the allegations are true, they're absolutely unacceptable. If the inspector general does in fact confirm and substantiate these claims, we're going to take swift and very appropriate action."
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(Click here to see the video of the committee hearing.)
Petzel said they're also going to take a similar look at VA health care systems nationwide, to see if they can find evidence of a secret waiting list anywhere.
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