- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 17, 2014

Sen. John McCain took pointed shots at the Obama administration Saturday and said much more must be done to fix “a systemic, cultural problem” inside the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

“It’s been more than a month since allegations that some 40 veterans died while waiting for care at the Phoenix VA were first made public. To date, the Obama administration has failed to respond in an effective manner,” the Arizona Republican said in the weekly GOP address. “Since those initial reports, however, the scandal has gone nationwide, as similar allegations have come to light involving VA clinics and hospitals across America … Clearly, the VA is suffering from a systemic, cultural problem that Congress cannot resolve with piecemeal responses. What’s needed is a total refocusing of the VA on its core mission of serving veterans.”

Amid a growing number of allegations surrounding health care at VA clinics, the White House announced this week that it will send one of the president’s top advisers to aid Veterans’ Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki in a full review.

Some Republicans and powerful groups such as the American Legion have called on the secretary to resign, but he has rejected those calls, and President Obama has said he has full confidence in Mr. Shinseki’s leadership.

While Mr. Shinseki remains in his post, the department’s undersecretary for health, Robert Petzel, resigned on Friday in the wake of the growing scandal.

Mr. Shinseki told Congress this week that he’s “mad as hell” over the alleged situation in Phoenix and other reported problems and vowed to investigate them.

The White House also believes full investigations are needed before Mr. McCain or anyone else can draw conclusions.

“I would simply say that it stands to reason that when allegations are made it’s important that they are investigated to find out the truth behind the matter before we just assume that what happened of what’s said to have happened is true,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said Friday.

In addition to a top-down review ordered by Mr. Shinseki the VA Office of the Inspector General has launched a full investigation.

Mr. McCain argues those reviews won’t produce results quickly enough.

“I respect the role of the inspector general, but my fellow veterans can’t wait the many months it may take to issue its report,” he said. “They need answers, accountability and leadership from this administration and Congress now.”

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