VA secretary to testify in front of Congress amid brewing scandal

WASHINGTON — Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki is set to appear before a Senate panel in Washington Thursday. This comes amid reports of veterans dying while waiting for care and an alleged coverup at VA hospitals nationwide, including in Colorado.

Shinseki is expected to say he is “angered and saddened” by the allegations but won’t provide much detail about what his department is doing to fix the problems.

According to prepared congressional testimony, he won’t even acknowledge there are problems.

A Veterans Affairs Committee will likely grill the retired decorated Army general about delays at numerous VA hospitals and a long list of serious problems and allegations of falsifying wait times.

The most disturbing emerged at the Phoenix VA, where 40 veterans might have died waiting for help. Many of those were allegedly on a secret waiting list.

According to a USA Today investigation, many of the 6,300 veterans treated at the outpatient clinic in Fort Collins waited months to be seen. The White House says President Barack Obama is determined to get the truth about the allegations.

“I think we all share concern, extreme concern, when it comes to making sure that our veterans are getting the care they deserve,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said. “And when they’re not, and certainly when there’s — if there’s — inappropriate conduct involved in preventing them from getting care, the president and the secretary will be the first to insist that action be taken.”

The White House says the president has confidence in Shinseki but some members of Congress are calling for his resignation.

Shinseki will also tell the panel the Office of Inspector General is conducting a comprehensive, thorough and timely investigation of at least a dozen VA hospitals, which includes the hospital in Fort Collins.