VA officials, Democrats work to offset scandal damage

As Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals work toward solutions to delayed care, vulnerable Democrats want to mitigate damage from the revelations surrounding the scandal.

The VA administration has taken several steps to fix departmental problems, So far, various agencies conducted several reviews and investigations, including a report from the VA's independent office of inspector general, an internal audit and a broad review of the VA network pointing to a "corrosive culture" in which management retaliated against whistleblowers, 

In addition, the VA banned executive bonuses and made several leadership changes; VA head Eric Shinseki resigned in June, and President Barack Obama this week nominated former Proctor & Gamble CEO Bob McDonald to replace him. In the meantime, interim VA Secretary Sloan Gibson reached out to more than 100,000 wait listed veterans to schedule appointments and discuss their healthcare needs, according to the Washington Post. Furthermore, the VA removed seeing patients within 14 days of appointment requests as a goal, a target White House advisor Rob Nabors called said was unrealistic, overly vague and had potentially "incentivized inappropriate actions."

The director of Richard L. Roudebush Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Indianapolis is touting the results of steps the facility took to fix problems, telling visiting members of Congress that patient wait times are down two-thirds, according to the Indianapolis Star. Director Tom Mattice said the 229-bed facility reduced average wait times from 42 days to less than two weeks.

Meanwhile, vulnerable Democratic lawmakers work to keep the scandal from hurting their chances in November's midterm elections, according to CQ Roll Call. Rep. Joe Garcia (Fla.) met with the director of Miami's VA system, while Senate candidate Rep. Bruce Braley (Iowa) introduced a bill that would provide college-loan repayments for healthcare providers who work in VA facilities, according to the article.

Sen. Mark Begich's (D-Alaska) leading Republican opponent, Dan Sullivan, a veteran, has accused him of ignoring the VA issue. Begich countered ads from the American Crossroads political action committee with ads touting his work to allow veterans access to local clinics.

"If you look, they have taken down their ads on this issue, because I think voters know in Alaska this is one area I have worked hard on and we had done so before the rest of the country," Begich told Roll Call.

To learn more:
- here's the Post article
- read the Star article
- check out the Roll Call article