The Slatest

Is the VA Hospital System the Obama Administration’s “Real Scandal”?

Shinseki at his confirmation hearing.

Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images

There’s a thorough summary in The Wire today of ongoing problems in the Veterans Administration, which writer Abby Ohleiser calls “a real, live scandal” (as in, a real scandal vis a vis the fruitless partisan round-and-round on Benghazi). Briefly: VA hospitals are not treating veterans, including many with life-threatening conditions, fast enough, and several VA hospitals are accused of systematically falsifying records to cover up evidence of the problem. Some groups are calling for Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign, and the outrage is not only coming from Republicans. The administration’s response thusfar has been limited but signals that the matter is being taken seriously:


President Obama announced that one of his closest advisors will “assist” Shineski in his investigation into the delays. Rob Nabors, a Deputy Chief of Staff at the White House, will temporarily work with the VA on its investigation.

Meanwhile, a National Journal piece says there are also major delays in the system that compensates veterans and their families via disability benefits. More than 300,000 claims for disability compensation have been pending with the VA for 125 days or longer, which means they are officially “backlogged” according to the department’s own guidelines.

Shinseki testified in front of a Senate committee investigating the treatment bottleneck and records-falsification issues today, though little seems to have happened besides Shinseki acknowledging the problem and legislators demanding further action.