Senator Calls For VA Secretary To Resign For Comparing VA To Disneyland

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Jonah Bennett Contributor
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GOP Sen. [crscore]Roy Blunt[/crscore] is calling for Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) Robert McDonald to resign for sayingwait times shouldn’t be used as a metric for success, because Disneyland doesn’t use them.

“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,” Blunt said in a statement Tuesday, according to The Hill. “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.”

“Secretary McDonald’s preposterous statement is right out of Never Never Land,” Blunt added.

McDonald said Monday at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast because Disneyland doesn’t use wait times for rides as a metric of success, the VA shouldn’t either, which is not that unsurprising, given his emphasis on bringing corporate management techniques to the public sector. Instead, he argued, the VA should focus on veteran satisfaction with the overall experience. But part of the reason why Disneyland doesn’t focus primarily on wait times for rides is because being in the park itself is an enjoyable experience. Presumably, being in a VA hospital as such is not a similarly pleasurable experience.

National Commander Dale Barnett of The American Legion brought this odd comparison into sharp relief with the comment, “People don’t die while waiting to go on Space Mountain.”

McDonald’s comments were immediately taken as incredibly insensitive to veterans, who often have to wait absurdly long for basic care. Not only are wait times often long, but the inspector general has repeatedly found nationwide issues with wait time manipulation. Discipline among staff and management for manipulation has been sparse to non-existent.

Appearing on MSNBC Tuesday, McDonald refused to directly answer how many people had been fired for wait time manipulation and also refused to apologize for his remarks on Disneyland.

Other lawmakers criticized McDonald, but did not call for his resignation. House Speaker GOP Rep. [crscore]Paul Ryan[/crscore] said, “I don’t know how he’s going to fix it but he needs to fix it.”

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