WASHINGTON — Missouri Republican Sen. [crscore]Roy Blunt[/crscore] Tuesday called for Veteran Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald to resign after McDonald compared extensive waiting periods for veteran care to standing in line at a popular amusement park.
“Secretary McDonald’s preposterous statement is right out of Never Never Land,” Blunt said in a statement. “I call on him to resign because it’s clear he cannot prioritize getting our veterans the health care they deserve and have earned in a timely manner. Dismissing wait times when veterans can often wait months for an appointment is negligent and a clear sign that new leadership is needed at the VA.”
At a Monday Christian Science Monitor breakfast, McDonald said the VA should move away from wait times as a main metric of veteran satisfaction. “When you go to Disney, do they measure the number of hours you wait in line? What’s important is what’s your satisfaction with the experience.”
“The days to an appointment is really not what we should be measuring,” McDonald said.
Blunt added, “This is yet another misstep of many with respect to the treatment and care for our veterans. At the VA hospital in St. Louis, they’ve had eight different interim directors since 2013 and a recent assessment of the facility found 45 deficiencies in service that needed to be addressed. These concerns are all too common in VA facilities across the country and it’s time for a change.”
The VA has been under scrutiny by members of Congress since claims in 2014 that VA centers were whitewashing data to tamp down the numbers showing how long veterans must wait for an appointment.
That controversy led to then-VA Secretary Eric Shinseki’s resignation and Congress passing legislation to reform the agency’s health-care system for veterans.