VA appoints new Phoenix health chief

The Department of Veterans Affairs named an interim director for the embattled Phoenix VA Health Care system, 10 days after it placed top officials there on administrative leave.

Steve Young on Monday will shift to Phoenix from the Salt Lake City VA, which he has led since 2009, according to the Associated Press. The Phoenix system oversees healthcare for about 85,000 veterans with a $500 million budget.

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The Phoenix system has come under heavy criticism over allegations of 40 preventable patient deaths and a waiting list it kept secret to conceal its long backlog. Several senior Republicans in Congress have called for the resignation of VA secretary Eric Shinseki over a nationwide backlog and instances of preventable deaths.

But Shinseki has received the tentative backing of Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who is pushing for legislation that would give him more power to fire officials deemed to be incompetent.

The director of the Phoenix VA, Sharon Helman, and two other officials were placed on administrative leave on May 1.

Before taking over in Salt Lake City, Young worked at VA facilities in Chicago and Florida, the AP reported.