Campaign Updates

Rep. Bradley Byrne vows to press for answers as investigation into Mobile VA facility continues

Posted on June 9th, 2014


Rep. Bradley Byrne said he will continue to push for answers in the wake of a wide-reaching audit that showed scheduling discrepancies at Department of Veterans Affairs facilities in Mobile and Biloxi, Miss.

The VA audit released Monday covered operations at 731 medical centers. It found more than 57,000 veterans nationwide were experiencing wait times of more than three months and cited 112 facilities for issues with waiting lists and scheduling delays.

Mobile and Biloxi, Miss. facilities, both part of the Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System, were among those that will undergo a further review and an investigation into their operations. VA operations in Tuskegee and Montgomery are also being investigated.

Byrne, R-Fairhope, said the inclusion of the Mobile clinic and the Biloxi hospital on the list is “especially” troubling.

“My office hears daily from veterans across Southwest Alabama who have experienced long wait times and questionable care from the VA. Ultimately the culture of complacency at the VA must change in order for veterans’ care to improve,” Byrne said. “I will continue to push for answers and results from the VA as the investigation moves forward.”

Last month, Byrne and Rep. Steve Palazzo, R-Miss., sent a letter to then-VA Secretary Eric Shinseki saying they had “serious concerns” about care provided by the facilities.

The lawmakers said they were aware the VA was looking into the issue, but “Congress’s oversight role and funding responsibilities creates an immediate need for information on current operation of all VA facilities, particularly, the ones that our constituents utilize on a regular basis.”

They asked for information related to patient lists, wait times and the process by which veterans are referred to outside providers. Shinseki stepped down just after the letter was sent and Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson has vowed to get to the bottom of the scheduling controversy that’s suspected to have been related to as many as 18 deaths at VA facilities in Phoenix.

Byrne and Palazzo also joined the chorus of those offering harsh criticism on the troubled healthcare system.

“We certainly understand the constraints that the VA system is under as it serves an aging and rapidly increasing veteran population; however, there is no excuse for negligence of this scale,” they wrote. “We will do everything in our power to ensure these veterans are not being cast aside or their cases mismanaged.”