President Barack Obama found a new report by the Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General “deeply troubling,” according to White House press secretary Jay Carney.
Obama had been briefed on the reports findings White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough on Wednesday. The report, which sampled 226 appointments, found that the average wait time for patients was 115 days before their first appointment at the Phoenix VA hospital. The report also found that 84 percent of veterans were forced to wait over the 14-day period set by the VA as a goal at the hospital. The hospital reported to the VA in 2013 that the average wait time was 24 days, a dramatic contrast with the wait time reality.
“White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough has briefed the President on the findings of the Inspector General’s interim report. The President found the findings extremely troubling,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a statement on Wednesday. “As the President said last week, the VA must not wait for current investigations of VA operations to conclude before taking steps to improve care. It should take immediate steps to reach out to veterans who are currently waiting to schedule appointments and make sure that they are getting better access to care now.
“The Secretary has said that VA will fully and aggressively implement the recommendations of the IG. The President agrees with that action and reaffirms that the VA needs to do more to improve veterans’ access to care. Our nation’s veterans have served our country with honor and courage and they deserve to know they will have the care and support they deserve.”
A number of lawmakers, both Democrats and Republicans, have began calling for Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki to step down in response to the ongoing VA revelations.