New VA chief McDonald to visit scandal-plagued Phoenix hospital

New Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald on Friday will visit the agency hospital in Phoenix that has become a focal point in the monthslong scandal over patient wait times.

The trip will be McDonald’s first since the Senate confirmed him last week in a 97-0 vote to be the new VA chief.

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In May, a VA inspector general examination of the Phoenix hospital found that patients had waited an average of 115 days for an initial doctor’s appointment, while official data claimed the wait time was only 24 days.

The investigation also showed 1,700 veterans who had been intentionally kept off official patient rolls.

The findings were just one in a series of revelations that led to former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki resigning on May 30.

McDonald’s trip will come the day after President Obama travels to Fort Belvoir in Virginia to sign a bipartisan bill to overhaul the troubled department.

The legislation passed both chambers of Congress in near-unanimous votes.

The bill provides $10 billion for veterans to seek medical care at non-VA providers if they live more than 40 miles from an agency facility or if they do not get a doctor’s appointment within 30 days.

It provides another $5 billion to allow the VA to hire more doctors, nurses and other medical staff.

"This new legislation, that passed Congress with strong bipartisan support, will put in place reforms and needed additional resources to meet the high standard of service that our veterans have earned," White House press secretary Josh Earnest said on Monday.

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