Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush traveled to the Denver suburbs Tuesday, touting a platform to better assist the nation's veterans returning from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Department of Veterans Affairs has been enveloped in scandal during President Obama's second term after a whistle blower exposed wait times so long that dozens of veterans may have died because they were unable to schedule appointments to see a doctor.
Key tenets outlined by Bush in his speech in Englewood, Colo., included improving healthcare access for veterans and modernizing technology used by the VA. Bush noted that “unreliable scheduling software systems” led to fatal delays.
“In this day and age, veterans should be able to log in, make or cancel an appointment, and check on the status of that appointment with little hassle,” said Bush.
The backdrop for his visit was political wrangling over a long-delayed new Veteran Affairs hospital under construction in the Denver suburb of Aurora.
While Bush, a Republican, did not cast blame on Democrats, he did allude to the delays as a “complete, unmitigated disaster.”
The massive project, originally budgeted at about $600 million, has ballooned to $1.67 billion and is three years behind schedule. Lawmakers from both parties have called for federal investigations into the project's mismanagement and delays. Republicans in Congress are calling on Obama to personally help find the remaining $600 million needed to complete the project.
"The president has been silent on this issue," Florida GOP Rep. Jeff Miller, a vocal critic of the VA, recently told the Denver Post. "The president has to get involved."
Miller called on Obama to find the additional funds by pulling from the federal budget -- a move that officials within the administration have said is an option.
New medical centers in Las Vegas, New Orleans and Orlando, Fla., have also faced delays and are hundreds of millions of dollars over original cost estimates.