“It is unacceptable that those who have served our country should have to wait nearly a year to receive care,” said Senator Casey. “There have been persistent problems at the Pittsburgh VAPHS so I am calling on the Administration to address these concerns immediately. Our veterans deserve care that honors the sacrifices they've made for our nation."
Senator Casey has been a leader in the Senate seeking ways to hold the VA more accountable. He pushed for greater transparency at the Pittsburgh VAPHS during the Legionnaires’ outbreak. He has questioned wait times for veterans seeking care at Pennsylvania VA facilities. He has worked reduce the backlog in VA facilities across the country by establishing the VA Backlog Working Group as well as introducing legislation with Senator Dean Heller (R-NV). In many facilities across the country, wait times exceed upwards of 200 days for veterans seeking care. Senator Casey’s legislation would work to improve benefits claims submission, reform practices in regional offices, and demand greater cooperation between federal agencies. More information on his efforts can be found here: link.
The text of Senator Casey’s letter is below:
Chief of Staff
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. McDonough:
I am writing to express my concern about the approximately 650 veterans seeking care at the VA Pittsburgh Health System (VAPHS) that were apparently kept waiting for an extended period of time. According to public reports, some wait times were up to a year or more.
I was also troubled to hear publicly reported allegations that officials at VAPHS may have interpreted instructions from the Department of Veterans Affairs to mean that they should avoid disclosing the existence of a wait list to Members of Congress. As you are aware, Congress has a constitutional duty to perform oversight of federal agencies and I take this responsibility very seriously. I ask that you address these concerns and clarify guidance appropriately for VAPHS and facilities across the country.
I believe that new leadership at the VA will help refocus attention on the health and safety of our veterans. It is clear, however, that many of these problems have persisted for years and will require systemic changes. Acting Secretary Gibson and other leaders in the VA must move expeditiously to address these concerns. I intend to work with other Members of Congress to ensure that appropriate legislative actions are taken to support that effort not only to improve healthcare for our veterans but the entire VA system.
As you know, these veterans made great sacrifices for our Nation and they deserve timely access to quality health care. I look forward to your response.
Robert P. Casey, Jr.
United States Senator
cc: Rob Nabors, Deputy Chief of Staff
Sloan Gibson, Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs
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