Democrats: Bush Efforts on Veterans’ Health Inadequate
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) on Saturday called promises by President Bush to provide adequate health care to veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan "hollow talk" and said the Bush administration must do more to address the issue, the AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
During the Democratic weekly radio address, Murray said that Bush has not requested adequate funds for the Department of Veterans Affairs.
She added, "The president can call on Democrats to follow him in lockstep all he wants, but, when it comes to caring for our veterans, we are not about to start taking advice from George Bush." She also criticized the administration for the loss of the personal data of millions of veterans and for failure to improve conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
In addition, Murray promoted a bill that would provide thousands of new case workers to prevent delays in health care for veterans, improve conditions at Walter Reed and fund efforts to improve treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and other conditions (Daly, AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 11/4).
In related news, Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) on Saturday asked the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Illinois to investigate "deeply disturbing" claims of improper care, inadequate oversight and possibly criminal behavior by employees at the Marion, Ill., VA Medical Center, the AP/Indianapolis Star reports.
Durbin made the request based on a letter from 31 current and former employees of the medical center that cited a number of problems at the facility. According to the letter, the medical center hired a physician who had his license revoked in a different state and several health care workers who lacked credentials. In addition, the medical center told nurses to destroy important documents and erased the records of patients who died from computers at the facility.
Durbin said that the claims "are extremely serious and deserve immediate investigation." The Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs on Tuesday will hold a hearing about the VA hiring practices and quality controls, with Gerald Cross, undersecretary for health at the department, expected to testify (Suhr, AP/Indianapolis Star, 11/4).