By Justin Sink
President Obama found “extremely troubling” a new report from the Veterans Affairs inspector general, the White House said Wednesday.
White House chief of staff Denis McDonough briefed Obama on the interim report, which found systemic problems at VA facilities where veterans were made to wait for treatment.
"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," he added.
According to the report, a Phoenix-area VA clinic claimed veterans waited just 24 days for care, when in fact they were kept from booking a primary care appointment an average of 115 days. Some 1,700 veterans were put on an unofficial wait list by managers at the facility.
In a statement, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said he was directing the department to triage care for the veterans waiting for appointments.
"The president agrees with that action and reaffirms that the VA needs to do more to improve veterans’ access to care," Carney said. "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.”
The White House statement did not mention the status of Shinseki, though, who has faced a growing number of high-profile calls from lawmakers to resign in the wake of the VA report.
Last weekend, Obama offered support for the embattled department head, but warned that he was waiting to examine the findings of the inspector general report, as well as an internal review led by White House deputy chief of staff Rob Nabors.
On Wednesday, Sens. Mark Udall (Colo.) and John Walsh (Mont.) became the first Senate Democrats to call for Shinseki's resignation.
House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) — all of whom had previously held back from calling for Shinseki to step down — also called for the former four-star general to leave his post.