KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

VA Chief Vows To Stay Amid Calls For Ouster

But former Senate Majority Leader Robert Dole, an advocate of veterans' issues who introduced Eric Shinseki at his confirmation hearing in 2009, called for a shake-up at the agency, while a Senate committee provided funds for a nationwide investigation, and a House panel authorized subpoenas to compel VA officials to testify.

The Washington Post: VA's Shinseki Vows To Stay On The Job As Calls For His Ouster Continue
Veterans' Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki vowed Thursday to stay in office and pledged to address the allegations of health care mismanagement that have besieged his agency and the Obama administration. In a brief interview with reporters on Capitol Hill, Shinseki initially demurred when asked why he thought he should keep his job. When a reporter noted that he's been "under the gun" all week, Shinseki quickly shot back: "This is not the first time" (O'Keefe, 5/22). 

USA Today: Dole: VA A 'Disaster' That Needs A Shake-Up
Former Senate majority leader Robert Dole, a disabled World War II veteran and leading advocate for veterans during decades of public service, on Thursday called for a shake-up at the Department of Veterans Affairs following allegations of delayed treatment and falsified books at VA hospitals, a situation he called a "disaster." In an interview with USA TODAY's Capital Download, Dole, now 90, spoke with apparent anguish about whether that shake-up should include VA Secretary Eric Shinseki. Dole had introduced Shinseki at his Senate confirmation hearings in 2009, praising his military service and calling the retired Army general a "true American hero" (Page, 5/23). 

Los Angeles Times: Congress Turns Up Heat Over VA Allegations
As Congress stepped up efforts Thursday to get to the bottom of the allegations of substandard healthcare services at Veterans Affairs facilities, a Senate committee provided funds for a nationwide investigation and a House panel authorized a subpoena to compel VA officials to appear at a hearing next week (Simon, 5/22). 

Politico: Barack Obama's Early VA Response: Executive Inaction
The latest stumbles have been a fresh reminder of the story line the White House has been trying to recover from since the fall, when the Obamacare website flopped, the key poll numbers about the president’s competence collapsed so deeply that they’re still far from recovering, and Democrats went into an apocalyptic panic about the midterms. That's exactly what Republicans have been hoping for. GOP leaders and officials have spent the last week talking about the backlogs and misconduct, but what they’re hoping voters hear is: Obama is still an unprepared executive who needs to be stripped of power in the midterms. Once again, they say, he’s presenting himself as an angry bystander, confronted with high-profile management failures on his watch that he says he learned about from news reports (Dovere, 5/22).

Modern Healthcare:  VA Officials No-Shows At Hearing On Alleged Wait-Time Cover-Up
Three senior Veterans Affairs Department officials stood up a House committee Thursday, failing to appear to answer questions about the alleged cover-up of long wait times for services at VA health facilities. The Veterans Affairs Committee called the hearing to discuss the officials' response to a May 8 subpoena for information about allegations that a Phoenix facility kept and then destroyed a secret waiting list (Dickson, 5/22).  

Meanwhile, Fox News reports on allegations about a Miami VA hospital.

Fox News: Whistleblower Says Crimes Covered Up At Miami VA Hospital
A VA police officer says administrators at the hospital in Miami where he works are covering up crimes at the facility, including evidence of physical abuse of patients and drug dealing. Thomas Fiore, who still works at the facility, told Fox News' Eric Bolling on "Hannity" that drug dealing among patients at the hospital is a "regular occurrence," and he felt he had to come forward because attempts he made to investigate or report wrongdoing fell on deaf ears. "I actually prepared a written plan, if you will, pertaining to an undercover operation so that we can at least identify who our targets are for the drug sales," he said. "And I presented that in an email and I'm still waiting on a response. I submitted it about two years ago" (5/23).

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