May 18 - Sen. John McCain says he is ''deeply troubled'' by allegations that delays at VA hospitals may have led to dozens of deaths,adding that the Obama administration's response to the scandal has created a ''crisis in confidence'' towards the VA. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) Republican Arizona Senator John McCain says he is "deeply troubled" by recent allegations that delays in treatment at veterans hospitals could have led to otherwise preventable deaths. The allegations include accusations that Veterans Affairs (VA) medical facilities in Phoenix, Arizona -- McCain's home state -- covered up long wait times for patients, 40 of whom died while awaiting care. "Clearly, the VA is suffering from a systemic, cultural problem that Congress cannot resolve with piecemeal responses," said McCain on Saturday (May 17) during the Republican party weekly address. "What's needed is a total refocusing of the VA on its core mission of serving veterans, stretching from its top political leadership all the way through to its career civil servants who, as recent reports suggest, may have been too often motivated by all the wrong incentives and rewards," he said. The revelation of possible deadly healthcare delays at veterans hospitals has sparked a growing political scandal including calls for the resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki. Shinseki has ordered a nationwide audit of appointment and scheduling practices at all VA hospitals and clinics. But McCain, a Vietnam veteran, accused the Obama Administration of an "inadequate response" to the allegations which he said have created "a crisis of confidence toward the VA" among the veteran community. "My fellow veterans...need answers, accountability and leadership from this Administration and Congress now," he said. Dr. Robert Petzel, the top health official at the Department of Veterans Affairs, resigned on Friday (May 16). Petzel's resignation, which came a day after he and Shinseki testified before Congress, appeared unlikely to calm the anger over the scandal, with one critic rejecting the move as "damage control" and the American Legion renewing its call for Shinseki himself to step down.