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Miller to Shinseki: Immediate Action Required to Ensure Vets Receive Medical Care

May 23, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Chairman Jeff Miller wrote to Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki yesterday urging immediate VA action to ensure veterans who may have been affected by possible appointment manipulation schemes and delays in care around the country get the medical attention they need. VA already has the legal authority required to provide veterans with non-VA medical care if the department does not have the capacity to deliver it in-house. Despite this fact, VA has linked the deaths of at least 23 veterans to recent delays in VA care. Additionally, Miller announced his intent to introduce legislation that would give any veteran forced to wait more than 30 days for a VA medical appointment the option to receive that medical care in the private sector. Afterwards, he released the following statement:

“While President Obama and Secretary Shinseki engage in an endless discussion regarding allegations, investigations and unreliable internal VA reviews, they are overlooking VA’s very real, very deadly and very well-documented delays in care problem. By the department’s own count, the deaths of at least 23 veterans are linked to recent delays in VA care. This is proof that the department’s system for ensuring veterans receive timely appointments is in dire need of an overhaul. Now is the time for immediate action. We simply can't afford to wait for the results of another investigation into a problem we already know exists. That’s why I’m calling on Sec. Shinseki to take emergency steps to ensure veterans who may have fallen victim to appointment wait time schemes or delays in care get the medical treatment they need. Additionally, I will be introducing legislation that would give any veteran who is unable to obtain a VA appointment within 30 days of application the option to receive non-VA care at the department’s expense. Acting in the best interest of our veterans is and always will be a bipartisan issue, and I hope Democrats and Republicans inside and outside the administration will join in my calls for swift action.– Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs

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