VA probe expands

 

The inspector general for the Department of Veterans Affairs has expanded its investigation to include 26 facilities around the country accused of mismanagement and hiding long wait times. 

The Associated Press reported that Inspector General Richard Griffin said last week that allegations at 10 new facilities had surfaced since initial reports about a Phoenix facility's attempt to disguise long wait times for veterans using a secret wait list. 

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On Wednesday, President Obama added a morning meeting with Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki and White House deputy chief of staff Rob Nabors to his schedule to receive an update on the situation. 

Nabors was selected to oversee a review in the VA amid the allegations. He met with a group of veterans groups on Tuesday and is expected to travel to Phoenix on Wednesday. 

Reports last month suggested nearly 40 veterans died while on a secret wait list at a Phoenix VA clinic, though it is not clear if the deaths were a result of the long wait time. Since then, allegations of similar mismanagement have surfaced around the country.

White House chief of staff Denis McDonough also met with frustrated Democrats in Congress on Tuesday. 

Critics have knocked the White House, not only for the allegations of mismanagement but also for its response to the news. They have pressed the president to address the controversy more directly.

"Well I think, again, part of it is this initial reaction to circle the wagon and say, ‘You know, we're going to protect our people. This is a partisan attack,’ ” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said Tuesday night on Fox. 

White House press secretary Jay Carney has signaled Obama is likely to soon address the issue publicly.