Arizona Sen. [crscore]John McCain[/crscore] is calling on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to apologize for her recent claim that the VA backlog scandal isn’t as “widespread” as Republicans make it out to be.
“Hillary Clinton’s remarks downplaying the significance of the scandal in which veterans died awaiting care at VA hospitals in Phoenix and across our nation while corrupt bureaucrats collected bonuses are disgraceful, and show a total lack of appreciation for the crisis facing veterans’ health care today,” McCain said in a statement on Monday.
Clinton was asked about the VA’s backlog issues during an interview Friday with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow. But instead of admitting that the agency has systematic problems providing health care to veterans, Clinton took a swipe at Republicans — who she labeled as one of her enemies in the first Democratic debate earlier this month.
“I don’t understand why we have such a problem. There have been a number of surveys of veterans, and overall, veterans who do get treated are satisfied with their treatment,” Clinton told Maddow.
But she added: “Nobody would believe that from the coverage that you see and the constant berating of the VA that comes from the Republicans, in part, in pursuit of this ideological agenda that they have.”
Maddow pushed back softly on Clinton’s blame-shifting, pointing out that there have been documented failures within the VA system. (RELATED: Hillary Says VA’s Problems Aren’t As Widespread As Republicans Claim)
“There has been, but it’s not been as widespread as it has been made out to be,” Clinton said.
McCain, a Vietnam veteran, called on Clinton to apologize for her remarks.
“Secretary Clinton owes an apology to the families of the veterans who lost their loved ones due to mismanagement and corruption in the federal government,” he said.
An audit conducted by the VA’s office of the inspector general found that 57,000 veterans had waited more than 90 days for their scheduled appointments. Nearly 70 percent of VA facilities maintained secret waiting lists for patients.
A report released last month also found that 307,000 veterans have died while on waiting lists before receiving health care. It is unclear how many of those veterans had been on the lists past the window mandated by the VA.