Originally published May 20 2014
VA hospital officials shredded documents to hide existence of secret waiting lists that killed U.S. veterans
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) The horrific Veterans Administration scandal, in which scores of patients on a "secret list" reportedly died after spending as long as a year without treatment, has widened. CNN correspondent Jake Tapper recently grilled White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough over President Obama's usual scandal posture: indifference, holding no one accountable and calculated outrage without any real action being taken.
As noted by Breitbart News, Obama is currently standing by his secretary of Veterans Affairs, former Army Gen. Eric Shinseki. This is in spite of the fact that, in 2013, Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., the chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, sent the president a letter that, Tapper reported, warned "of dramatic problems at the VA, 'a perfect illustration of the management failures, deception, lack of accountability permeating VA's health care system [and] an alarming pattern of serious and significant patient care issues.'"
'But you are not. This letter was sent a year ago.'
Breitbart News described the exchange:
McDonough responded with platitudes and prepared talking points about the President standing by our veterans and increased funding. Tapper wasn't having any of it. "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?"
A transcript published by Real Clear Politics read:
McDONOUGH: The question, Jake, is, are we doing everything we can every day to get the veterans the care and the opportunities that they deserve?
TAPPER: But you are not. This letter was sent a year ago. And you guys ignored it.
McDONOUGH: And we have been working aggressively to ensure that not only is health care expanded, opportunities made more ready to our vets, but that people are held to account, as Ric is doing in this case. We will continue to do that.
In addition to Tapper, Jon Karl of ABC News was also aggressive with the White House in the briefing room May 16, as the scandal continued to unfold. After White House spokesman Jay Carney belched his talking points, Karl appeared a bit dazed and a little disgusted by the White House's dissembling and "happy talk."
"Tapper and Karl are also two of only a handful of mainstream media reporters interested in getting to the truth about Benghazi -- as opposed to undermining the search for the truth, which is something of which almost all of their colleagues are guilty," Breitbart News reported.
CNN was the first to report that at least 40 veterans had died waiting for appointments and treatment at the VA Medical Center in Phoenix. They had been placed on a "secret" waiting list that was different than the published, open-record list that the hospital actually utilized:
The secret list was part of an elaborate scheme designed by Veterans Affairs managers in Phoenix who were trying to hide that 1,400 to 1,600 sick veterans were forced to wait months to see a doctor, according to a recently retired top VA doctor and several high-level sources.
'A sham list'
Prior, the network had been reporting for at least six months that there were extended delays in healthcare appointments that veterans all across the country were experiencing. Some of them had died while waiting for an appointment and care, suggesting that the problem within the VA system might be more widespread or even systemic.
That said, revelations about the Phoenix VA were the most serious and compelling, and have led to the most press coverage since the report first broke.
The doctor, Sam Foote, who retired after spending 24 years with the VA system, told CNN that the Phoenix medical center operated off of two lists for patient appointments:
There's an "official" list that's shared with officials in Washington and shows the VA has been providing timely appointments, which Foote calls a sham list. And then there's the real list that's hidden from outsiders, where wait times can last more than a year.
In addition, Foote said that officials at the Phoenix VA shredded documents in a bid to hide evidence of long waiting lists for veterans. He added that officials at the institution instructed physicians not to use the hospital computer system to make appointments, so they could not be tracked.
Foote said that, when a veteran comes in seeking an appointment, "they enter information into the computer and do a screen capture hard copy printout. They then do not save what was put into the computer so there's no record that you were ever here."
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