Feinstein demands VA review of Calif. facilities

Greg Nash

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) on Monday demanded the Veterans Affairs Department for an “immediate review” of medical appointment wait times at all facilities in her state.

The letter to Acting Secretary Sloan Gibson cites reports that veterans are waiting up to 90 days to get a doctor’s appointment at Los Angeles and Long Beach facilities. Feinstein gave the newly installed temporary chief 10 business days to respond to her request.

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“It has become clear that the VA has failed to address long appointment wait times for veterans, instead allowing a culture of cover-ups to take hold,” Feinstein said in a statement. “It is unacceptable that veterans are forced to wait months for appointments. Congress must act quickly and decisively, and I will support legislation to address this situation.”

The missive comes after a turbulent week for the agency in which two reports found systemic tampering with patient waiting lists at a majority of the VA’s medical facilities to paper over how long veterans had to wait to receive care. The revelations led to Secretary Eric Shinseki resigning from the department’s top post.

Senators may soon have to choose between competing plans to overhaul the beleaguered agency. Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Thursday is set to propose legislation that would grant the new VA chief expanded powers over firing senior executives.

Meanwhile, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and a group of GOP lawmakers on Tuesday will unveil a new measure that could allow veterans more options to seek medical care at private facilities.