PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) – The nationwide scandal involving a waiting list at VA hospitals has now touched Pittsburgh.
U.S. Reps. Tim Murphy, a Republican, and Mike Doyle, a Democrat, are criticizing the Veterans Affairs Pittsburgh Healthcare System for keeping nearly 700 veterans on a list for medical care, some for more than a year.
The two congressmen issued a statement Thursday night calling on the VA to contact every veteran on the list within 48 hours. And, Friday morning, in response to growing outcry across the country, President Barack Obama announced that Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki has resigned due to the scandal.
As for the local VA problems, one veteran says he believes he’s on those reported wait lists.
When Army veteran Mike Jones dials his VA healthcare line, he realizes he’s had no appointments since February of last year.
He’s had a hip replacement, and believes he’s on a waiting list.
“I thought I was on the waiting list so long because of the influx of the troops coming back from Afghanistan and people that served already,” says Jones. “They push them to the back of the line to give this guy a prosthetic limb, what have you. And I understand that, but I still need to be seen as a veteran in the United States military.”
Local congressmen learned as many as 700 vets are on a list at the Pittsburgh VA, so Friday’s shake up in Washington was inevitable in their eyes.
“It’s a step in the right direction,” says U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle. “General Shinseki is an honorable man. He served his country. I think he thought the best thing he could do for veterans was to step aside and to let this process move forward. The focal point needs to be the veterans. Not one person.”
“It’s time for change,” says Jones. “It’s time to get somebody in there that’s not going to be a distraction like the president said.”
Late this afternoon, U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy revealed investigators have traced the local problem.
“The latest is that this list of 700 names that was on this appointment list has been traced to one person who was not processing these appointments, and apparently, the supervisors of this person were also not keeping an eye on this,” says Rep. Murphy.
Congressman Murphy also spoke with KDKA Radio’s Mike Pintek a short time after President Obama announced that Shinseki had resigned. Murphy says the resignation showed Shinseki was taking personal responsibility for the growing list of problems at VA health centers around the country.
“He was at the top, he takes responsibility for it but all the way through, all the people, there’s a lot of cleaning up to do,” said Congressman Murphy. “At multiple sites, at multiple hospitals around the nation.”