- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee wants President Obama to create a bipartisan commission to study access-to-care issues that are threatening the lives of U.S. military veterans.

Rep. Jeff Miller said in a letter to the White House on Tuesday that “there is precedent for establishing an independent commission in response to concerns regrading the care provided to our nation’s service members and veterans.”

Mr. Miller’s commission request comes on the heels of other aggressive measures that the Florida Republican has taken to get to the root of whistleblower allegations that dozens of veterans died while on a wait list to receive medical attention at a Phoenix VA health center.

Just last week, Mr. Miller and other committee members unanimously voted to subpoena key Department of Veterans Affairs officials for emails and other communications that could shed light on the Phoenix debacle amid concerns that the VA was stonewalling lawmakers seeking clarity on the allegations.

The same day as the committee made a rare and formal grab for elusive health center information, the department announced that it planned to have the Veterans Health Administration conduct a nationwide access review complete with face-to-face audits of all VA clinics.

But that effort appears to be futile in the eyes of Congress.

Mr. Miller said that given the gravity of the allegations surrounding the department — as well as the issues that continue to be raised by whistleblowers, veterans and their families — he had “grave concerns about the ability and appropriateness of any internal investigation” into access-to-care issues.