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US Congress Investigates Veterans Hospital Waiting Lists

  • VOA News

FILE – Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki applauds veterans in audience while addressing disabled veterans' memorial dedication ceremony, Washington, Nov. 2010.

FILE – Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki applauds veterans in audience while addressing disabled veterans' memorial dedication ceremony, Washington, Nov. 2010.

Members of the U.S. Congress have called the head of the Veterans Administration to testify next week about reports of long waiting lists for military veterans seeking medical treatment.

A committee of the House of Representatives voted Thursday to subpoena records about the waiting lists. A Senate committee has called Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to testify.

Shinseki has ordered a national audit of access to medical care for U.S. military veterans, after reports of months-long waiting lists at Veterans hospitals in Arizona and other locations. One of the reports said veterans had died while waiting for care.

The reports about the Phoenix, Arizona, facility said officials there had maintained a secret waiting list to hide delays. Veterans Affairs officials have denied the existence of a secret list, but say they are investigating record-keeping in the veterans health system.

The American Legion, one of the major U.S. organizations that represent military veterans, has called for Shinseki and two other Veterans Administration officials to resign. The Veterans of Foreign Wars group, however, said it disagreed with the resignation call and said Shinseki should take action to fix the problems rather than quitting.

The White House says it has full confidence in Shinseki, and said the backlog of cases of veterans awaiting treatment at a VA facility had been cut in half, from 600,000 cases last year to just more than 300,000 cases in early May.

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