The FBI's involvement suggests there could be criminal charges against hospital officials and management who manipulated patient wait times. The Senate passed a bill that would implement key changes to VA medical facilities.
"In my homestate of Indiana, confirmed audit findings show that veterans endured unacceptably long wait times with some Hoosier veterans not even receiving an appointment."
Indiana Senator Dan Coats speaks on the Senate floor about the ongoing VA hospital scandals in Indiana and across the country. This week, the VA's Inspector General released details of the nationwide audit of the agency's clinics and hospitals.
The internal review found that more than 57,000 veterans have been waiting at least 90 days to see a doctor at the facilities.
"Ultimately, the VA needs a change of culture. Too many bureaucrats view our veterans as a list of numbers, rather than heroes worthy of our best care."
Senators Dan Coats and Joe Donnelly both voted in favor of a bill to reduce wait times at VA facilities.
Donnelly said in a statement, "Our veterans deserve timely access to the very best care we can provide. This bill strengthens our ability to hold VA officials accountable for their job performance."
Both the House and Senate have included funding in spending bills for the Justice Department to conduct a criminal investigation. Florida Congressman Jeff Miller heads up the Committee on Veteran Affairs.
"What our bill will do is allow them to go outside the system right away and it also allows people outside of a 40 miles radius to get their care outside of the system as well. This is something that veterans have asked for for a long time. 'Why do I have to travel 3, 4, 5 hours for a 15 minute appointment when I can get it done at home with my local physician?'"
The Justice Department is now directing the FBI to investigate misconduct within the Department of Veteran Affairs. This after allegation of excessive wait times and secret waiting lists at VA facilities.
James Comey says, "We will follow wherever the facts take us."
FBI Director James Comey saying the agency will be thorough during a house oversight meeting. It's the first involvement by the Bureau in the review being led by the VA Inspector General's Office.
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