Maybe neglect didn’t cause death, but …
It will come as no surprise to those who watch the government closely that the Department of Veterans Affairs has concluded it was not responsible for the deaths of veterans kept waiting for care at the Phoenix VA hospital. But members of Congress should ask whether that answers another question.
It is known that veterans have been kept waiting for unacceptable lengths of time to see health care personnel at many VA hospitals. The agency insists that, with a massive infusion of new money from Congress, it is taking care of the problem.
But the whistleblower who broke the wait-list scandal said as many as 40 veterans died while waiting for care at the Phoenix VA facility.
VA Secretary Robert McDonald announced Monday that the agency’s inspector general had investigated the allegation and “was unable to conclusively assert that the absence of timely quality care caused the death of these veterans.”
But some explanation still is necessary. Did the inspector general find, too, that prompt VA care would not have prolonged the veterans’ lives? The two questions are very different. Members of Congress should insist on an answer to the second one.