President Barack Obama may turn outside the military for his next Veterans Affairs (VA) secretary. The administration is considering Cleveland Clinic President and CEO Delos "Toby" Cosgrove to succeed former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, Bloomberg reports.
Shinseki resigned at the end of May after a scathing report revealed treatment delays, mismanagement and falsified records within the VA system. Obama appointed VA Deputy Secretary Sloan D. Gibson as acting secretary until he finds a permanent replacement, FierceHealthcare reported.
It's unclear if the White House is considering other people for the post but Cosgrove is an intriguing choice, former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland told Cleveland.com. "He obviously has experience in successfully managing a large, important healthcare network. He knows medicine and he obviously knows organization and management and leadership when it comes to the delivery of quality healthcare."
The investigation into misconduct at the VA began after allegations surfaced in April that as many as 40 veterans died due to delays in care at a Phoenix VA hospital, where a secret wait list hid about 1,500 veterans waiting for care.
Meanwhile, the waitlist scandal within the VA has reached a number of Midwest facilities, including ones in Kansas, Missouri, Illinois and Indiana, the Associated Press reported.
At least 96 veterans waited more than 90 days for treatment at seven facilities in those states, according to letters from VA officials to two U.S. senators, and two of the 10 waitlists "placed veterans at risk."
An additional investigation revealed quality of care varies widely at different VA hospitals, according to the Wall Street Journal. For example, the rate of potentially lethal sepsis from central-intravenous lines was more than 11 times higher among patients at the Phoenix facility than at top VA hospitals, which also had a 32 percent higher 30-day death rate than top-performing department hospitals.
In Florida, Gov. Rick Scott (R) said the VA hospitals recently turned away state Agency for Health Care Administration inspectors who were sent to look into conditions at facilities across the state, the Pensacola News Journal reported.
Meanwhile, Americans aren't pleased with how the government is handling the situation. Nearly 60 percent of respondents in a CNN poll gave Obama poor marks for how he's addressed the scandal, although his overall approval rating hasn't dropped from 43 percent, where it stood a month ago, according to CNN.