Walz Calls for Further Review of Rochester VA

Posted at: 06/09/2014 10:30 PM
Updated at: 06/09/2014 10:48 PM
By: Jenna Lohse

(ABC 6 News) -- An audit shows long wait times around the country for those seeking first appointments at veterans affairs hospitals. The nationwide audit shows tens of thousands of veterans have been waiting up to three months for appointments.

The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is continuing to move quickly to investigate the serious short comings with in the VA.

"I apologize to our veterans, their families, and their loves ones, members of congress, veterans service organizations, our employees and the American people,” said Philip Matkovsky, Assistant Deputy for Administrative Operations, Veterans Health Administration.

This comes after the findings of an audit involving more than 700 VA hospitals nationwide. It shows 57,000 veterans are waiting for care 90 days after their appointments were scheduled. The audit also found another 63,000 who had enrolled in the VA’s health care system over the past decade had never been seen by VA doctors.

"Have you found evidence of criminal activity in your assessment?” asked Committee Chairman Jeff Miller. “We found indications of some supervisors directing some of the methodologies to change the times,” said Acting Inspector General, Richard Griffin.

At the late night hearing, committee members grilled VA officials on how it plans to repair the damage it caused by tampering with veterans access to care.

"We saw this as an opportunity, the opportunity for us to set a reset,” said Matkovsky.

Here in Minnesota, the audit shows wait times at our two VA medical centers are considerably lower, averaging 28 days in Minneapolis and 25 in St. Cloud. But congressman Tim Walz says there are VA clinics that need more looking into.

In this statement he says, “I encourage the VA inspector general to immediately engage with those facilities that have been flagged for further review, including the Minneapolis and Rochester facilities, and, if any wrongdoing is found, hold those responsible accountable,” said Congressman Tim Walz.

He spoke Monday night in Washington, "I would just encourage you, we got to look at this a different way,” said Walz.

The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs has written a letter to the Department of Justice asking if they'll open a criminal investigation into the VA scandal.