The ongoing debate around the Department of Veterans Affairs and the deaths of 40 veterans waiting for care at a Phoenix VA hospital is far from over. Embattled Secretary of Veterans Affairs Gen. Eric Shinseki is set to testify before the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee later this week.
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) will be leading the questioning at that testimony, and he joined On Point today to explain what he’s looking for from Sec. Shinseki.
“I certainly am not supporting the call for his resignation,” Sanders said. “I think in many respects he has done a good job.”
“If you look at issues like homelessness, which has been a serious problem for decades, the VA has made real progress in recent years under General Shinseki, and I think that’s a very positive step.”
While Sanders admitted the need for a greater transparency at the VA — a call his House counterpart, Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL), echoed just before him on our program — Sanders also pointed out just how archaic so much of the VA system remains in this modern age.
“The claims system at the VA…you know where they were, in 2009? On paper. What [Sec. Shinseki] had to do is develop an entire electronic system, which they have done.”
The six and half million-veteran VA health system ranks well among those patients receiving care, Sanders noted. Sanders also called into question the alleged cause of the patients at the Phoenix VA hospital, where this crisis first came to public light.
“We’re gonna get to the root cause of that,” Sanders said. “While we have got to get to the root causes of the problems in the VA, we also have to understand that we have a healthcare system throughout America that has problems. It’s just not the VA.”
Is Sanders correct? Are there larger issues at play in our national healthcare system beyond the failures at the VA? Is this a management problem? A funding problem? Something deeper?