At least 2 Kansas, Missouri VA hospitals facing troubling allegations

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - President Obama described the allegations of misconduct at Veterans Affairs hospitals around the country dishonorable and disgraceful.

The list of 26 government facilities under investigation will not officially be made available to the public until all facilities have been reviewed. The list is up from 10 just last week.

On Tuesday, President Obama hoped to head off growing anger over the VA Hospital scandal. The President said the troubling allegations of treatment delays and preventable deaths are punishable offenses, if they turn out to be true.

"Whether its allegations of VA staff covering up long wait times or cooking the books, I will not stand for it," he said.

But Kansas Republican representative Lynn Jenkins shot back on Wednesday. She said VA officials warned the Obama-Biden transition team in the weeks after the 2008 presidential election that the department shouldn’t trust the wait times at its facilities.

"While the President took little action this morning, the House will act today on the widespread mismanagement of the VA healthcare system," Jenkins said.

House lawmakers, by a vote of 390-33, passed the VA Management Accountability Act to give the VA Secretary the authority to fire senior executives who fail to do their job.

Politicians on both sides are calling for action as troubling allegations continue to mount at at least two hospitals in Kansas and Missouri.

In Topeka, Jenkins said the hospital there recently shut down its emergency room because of a shortage of doctors.

Kansas Senator Jerry Moran said he's been trying to get the VA to take action about complaints there and other facilities for years.

"Those are the things we've been trying to get answers from the VA for a long time," he said.

In St. Louis, reports as far back as 2010 also show problems.

In 2010, television stations reported that 1,800 veterans were potentially exposed to hepatitis and HIV. The allegations continued: rust stains found on surgical equipment and bonuses paid to all staffers, regardless of performance.

The St. Louis VA Hospital is the same hospital the VA system put on its top 32 performers list in 2013
The Kansas City VA hospital has not heard if it is on the list of 26 under investigation.

The Office of Inspector General reviewed the Kansas City VA hospital in 2013. It was cited in two areas: it needed to add an employee in its hospice care and better documentation in ulcer prevention and management.

As the list continues to grow, Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill said she is surveying veterans, saying:

“The best way to figure out the quality of care veterans receive is by talking to them directly, that’s why I started the Veterans Customer Satisfaction Program over three years ago. I look at these surveys as an indication of the care our veterans receive in Missouri. As for what’s happened in Phoenix, the Inspector General, who is independent of the administration, is on the job and I know their work can be relied on as unbiased and independent. But when it comes to Missouri’s veterans, I’ll be looking closely at what their surveys say this year about how quickly they’re seen by medical professionals, and continue to work this day in and day out. ”

During the Senate Republican Leadership Stakeout, Missouri U.S. Senator Roy Blunt criticized the Obama administration "for failing to take responsibility for several national issues, including allegations that the Department of Veterans Affairs has mishandled care for veterans."

You can hear Senator Blunt's comments below.

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