Veterans Affairs officials came in for a bipartisan tongue-lashing Wednesday night from the
The contentious committee hearing came hours after an interim report from the VA's inspector general was released. It found systemic problems throughout the VA network in scheduling veterans for medical appointments, as well as "instances of manipulation" to mask long waits.
"Until VA understands that we're deadly serious, you can expect us to be over your shoulder every single day," committee Chairman
Although the VA has produced more than 5,500 pages of documents, Miller accused the agency of stonewalling the panel and failing to produce all of the documents it has sought.
The committee’s top Democrat, Rep.
The inspector general’s investigation has expanded to 42 sites, up from the 26 previously reported. VA facilities in Phoenix, San Antonio and Fort Collins, Colo., have been identified as subjects of the review, but the inspector general’s office has declined to identify others. That has frustrated members of
"I think every member of Congress is going to be looking at their local VA centers and wanting to know the truth on what's happening in their own communities," Rep.
Miller grilled VA officials about an email written by a Los Angeles VA employee alleging the facility was manipulating wait times. In the email obtained by the panel, the employee asked where to report "inappropriate scheduling practices."
Another email obtained by the panel showed that a Los Angeles VA official had dismissed the worker as "an angry employee who did not get her performance award."
Thomas Lynch, the VA assistant deputy undersecretary for health for clinical operations, told the committee that the "only concern that I am aware of" related to Los Angeles was the cancellation of old radiology orders. He said Los Angeles VA officials had assured him the orders were canceled "only after a careful review."
"Well, let me give you a little hint," Miller told Lynch. "VA won't tell you the truth."
Lynch pledged to look into the matter.
Lynch said he was concerned such a meeting might interfere with the investigation.