CNN’s Jake Tapper grilled White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough over the VA scandal Thursday, after VA Secretary Mike Shinseki refused to step down over the widening circle of corruption.
“What can be done to stop this culture of no accountability in the VA system?” Tapper asked.
McDonough replied that lots of people have been “held accountable” at the VA, but failed to give any specifics.
“In that same health care system Jake we have dramatically expanded access, because that’s what our vets have earned and that’s what we’ll continue to do.”
But access to what? The wait times are real, but the data is impossible to trust, because the VA has fudged, tampered with, and destroyed so much of it.
Tapper held up a May, 2013 letter from Rep Jeff Miller, House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman to President Obama, which started off:
l am writing to bring to your attention an alarming pattern of serious and significant patient care issues at Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Centers (VAMCS) across the country. Recent events at the Atlanta, Georgia, VAMC provide a perfect illustration ofthe management failures, deception, and lack of accountability permeating VA’S health care system. Because these issues are long-standing, systemic, and apparently immune to the current structure of accountability within VA, I believe your direct involvement and leadership is required.
McDonough then deflected, pointing to the increased budget for the VA. Tapper would have nothing of it.
“How many stories like this, how many letters like this,” demanded Tapper, waving the letter, “how many dead veterans do you need before somebody asks the question within the White House, ‘Maybe this guy isn’t the best steward of these veterans?'”
“The question is, Jake, are we doing everything every day to make sure the veterans get the care…”
But you’re not, responded Tapper.