The White House piled on to recent attacks on the quality of care for veterans at the VA, issuing a report late Friday that bluntly said the health care arm of the VA “needs to be restructured and reformed,” giving new impetus to efforts in Congress to make dramatic changes in VA operations.
“A corrosive culture has led to personnel problems across the Department that are seriously impacting morale and, by extension, the timeliness of health care,” the White House report said.
You can read the entire review here.
“It appears the White House has finally come to terms with the serious and systemic VA health care problems we’ve been investigating and documenting for years,” said Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL), who as chairman of the House Veterans Committee has been on the tail of the VA well before it became a familiar news story in recent months.
The White House report, which was issued with little fanfare in an email to reporters on Friday evening, spared little in its assessment of the VA. Among the findings:
+ The report described the Veterans Health Administration as one that “acts with little transparency or accountability with regard to its management of the VA structure”
+ “VHA delivers quality care, but is resistant to reforms and change”
+ The structure of the VA health system “is not accountable or transparent” to top officials in Washington, D.C.
+ The VA health system leadership team “is not prepared to deliver effective day-to-day management or crisis management”
+ The report found a “history of retaliation toward employees” who blow the whistle on questionable practices, and a general “lack of accountability”
+ The report said the VA culture “tends to minimize problems or refuse to acknowledge problems” inside the agency
The White House said on Friday that President Obama has asked his aide, Deputy Chief of Staff Rob Nabors, to stay on temporarily at the VA to oversee internal change.
The move comes as lawmakers in the Congress – in both parties – have made clear that the agency needs much more oversight.
“Our job as a Congress and as a nation is to make the necessary changes so that every veteran in the VA system gets the quality and timely health care they are entitled to,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), the chairman of the Senate Veterans Committee.
The Senate Veterans Committee though has held few oversight hearings on the recent VA troubles – almost all of that work has been done by the House Veterans Committee, where members of both parties have joined in a rare show of real oversight of a federal agency.
Congress is off for a July 4th break; more hearings are expected when lawmakers return the week of July 7.