Ariz. Dem tells VA secretary to implement 'commonsense solutions'

Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) demanded that Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Robert McDonald immediately work to improve care at the Phoenix VA facility.

McDonald visited the Arizona lawmakers after reports claimed at least 40 veterans died because they didn’t receive timely care at the Phoenix VA facility. Some veterans were put on secret waiting lists to hide the backlog of medical care at that facility and others around the country.

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Sinema said that in her private meeting with McDonald she asked that he prioritize improving healthcare at the Phoenix VA facility.

“I requested that he hire additional behavioral health professionals and patient advocates, implement a new and modernized scheduling system and support non-VA services in the community for veterans who do not use the VA, as well as several other commonsense solutions,” Sinema said Saturday.

Before lawmakers left town for August recess, Congress passed a bipartisan conference report aimed at overhauling the VA healthcare system. Some of the changes included giving the VA secretary more power to fire those responsible for the secret waiting lists, and allowing some veterans to seek care at non-VA facilities if they live far away or have waited a long time to see a doctor.

Last week, President Obama signed that bill into law.

“I also urged him to ensure that the $20 million dollar Phoenix facility approved through the new VA reform law is opened quickly so Arizona veterans can get access to the quality care they deserve,” Sinema said. 

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