- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 14, 2014

MANKATO, Minn. (AP) - While saying there is no evidence of a “secret wait list” at Minnesota VA clinics, U.S. Rep. Tim Walz said Wednesday he is pursuing a “full accounting” of the medical scheduling process used at VA clinics in the state.

Walz said he is a strong ally of the Veterans Administration but also a harsh critic when warranted, The Free Press of Mankato (http://bit.ly/QK8o5S) reported. The Minnesota Democrat, who’s a member of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, made his comments at the Mankato VA clinic.

His statements come as federal investigators look into allegations from a former clinic director for the VA in Phoenix who says that up to 40 veterans may have died while awaiting treatment at the Phoenix hospital, and that staff, at the instruction of administrators, created a secret system to hide delays in treatment.

Walz called the Phoenix allegations “an abomination.”

The goal is for a wait of no more than 14 days to see a VA provider. Walz said that in Minnesota it appears the average wait time “is hovering around two to three weeks and sometimes longer.”

Walz voted last week with other members of the veterans affairs committee to subpoena emails and correspondence from top VA officials, including VA Secretary Eric Shinseki.

Virgil Marble, who was waiting for his appointment at the Mankato VA clinic when Walz arrived, said he’s most familiar with the Minneapolis VA and hasn’t generally had problems getting a fairly quick appointment.

“The waits aren’t bad,” said Marble, who served in the Air Force from 1960 to 1966.

Walz said that despite the scandal, the VA has grown from a place veterans once didn’t want to use to a premier health care system.

“It’s one of the best, if not the best, medical facility in the world,” Walz said.

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Information from: The Free Press, http://www.mankatofreepress.com