clear
Sunday May 3rd, 2015 12:04PM

Acting chief says VA won't tolerate intimidation

By The Associated Press
SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- Acting Veterans Affairs Secretary Sloan Gibson warned VA administrators on Friday that intimidation or retaliation against anyone who calls attention to problems within the veterans' health system will not be tolerated.<br /> <br /> Federal investigators are examining allegations that VA supervisors retaliated against 37 employees who filed "whistleblower" complaints. It included some who complained about improper scheduling practices at the heart of a growing scandal within the VA system.<br /> <br /> At a news conference Friday after a visit to a San Antonio VA facility, Gibson said the department will follow laws that forbid whistleblower retaliation.<br /> <br /> He said employees of any organization need to feel they can speak out and Gibson warned against anything that would create a climate that would stifle that source. "I think that is wrong. It is absolutely unacceptable." Gibson said.<br /> <br /> "There have been questions raised about intimidation or even retaliation. There is a law that forbids that, and we'll follow the law," Gibson said.<br /> <br /> He also expressed confidence that investigators will be able to ferret out the truth, regardless of any attempts to squelch potential whistleblowers.<br /> <br /> "We have a pretty savvy IG (Inspector General). They are going to gather information from the bottom up," he said. "These guys didn't just fall off the turnip truck. These are professionals at their trade," he added.<br /> <br /> The scandal has centered on long patient waits for care and falsified records covering up delays at VA hospitals and clinics nationwide.<br /> <br /> After a visit to a Phoenix VA facility on Thursday, Gibson said an additional 18 veterans whose names were kept off an official electronic VA appointment list have died and that he would ask the inspector general to see if there is any indication those deaths were related to long wait times. If so, they would reach out to those veterans' families.<br /> <br /> The 18 veterans who died were among 1,700 veterans identified in a report last week by the VA's inspector general as being "at risk of being lost or forgotten." The investigation also found broad and deep-seated problems with delays in patient care and manipulation of waiting lists throughout the sprawling VA health care system, which provides medical care to about 9 million veterans and family members.<br /> <br /> Gibson said he does not know whether the 18 new deaths were related to wait times but said they were in addition to the 17 reported last month.<br /> <br /> Also Thursday, senior senators reached agreement on the framework for a bipartisan bill making it easier for veterans to get health care outside VA hospitals and clinics.<br /> <br /> The bill announced Thursday by Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., would allow veterans who wait 30 days or more for VA appointments or who live at least 40 miles from a VA hospital or clinic to use private doctors enrolled as providers for Medicare, military TRICARE or other government health care programs.<br /> <br /> It also would let the VA immediately fire as many as 450 senior regional executives and hospital administrators for poor performance. The bill resembles a measure passed last month by the House but includes a 28-day appeal process omitted by the House legislation.<br /> <br /> ---<br /> <br /> Daly reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Terry Tang in Phoenix and Donna Cassata in Washington contributed to this report.
© Copyright 2015 AccessNorthGa.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Judge denies motions to move, delay Tsarnaev trial
Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev asked a federal appeals court Wednesday to overturn a judge's decision to not move his upcoming trial out of state.
10:02PM ( 4 months ago )
High court to adopt electronic filing of cases
The Supreme Court is belatedly developing an electronic filing system similar to those used in courts around the country, Chief Justice John Roberts said Wednesday in his annual end-of-year report.
7:57PM ( 4 months ago )
Storm brings snow, cold to West for New Year's
A blustery winter storm dumped snow and ice across the West on Wednesday, making driving treacherous in the mountains from California to the Rockies and forcing residents and party-goers in some usually sun-soaked cities to bundle up for a frosty New Year's.
5:19PM ( 4 months ago )
U.S. News
Grass fire impacts rush hour traffic on 985
Rush hour traffic on I-985 was slowed by a grass fire Wednesay afternoon with one lane closed while firefighters fought the blaze.
10:19PM ( 4 months ago )
Hall County conviction, sentencing to be reviewed by SCOGA
The State Supreme Court has agreed to hear the appeal of a Hall County man when they reconvene in January.
2:37PM ( 4 months ago )
Local/State News
Committee leaves transportation funding to lawmakers
Georgia will have to cover a $1 billion to $1.5 billion transportation funding gap to stay economically competitive, a committee of lawmakers is warning in a report issued Tuesday.
5:36AM ( 4 months ago )
US off war footing at year's end, but wars go on
Taking America off a permanent war footing is proving harder than President Barack Obama may have suggested.
6:13PM ( 4 months ago )
GOP leader regrets talk to white supremacists; party leaders rally around him
House Republican leaders rallied around one of their own, Whip Steve Scalise, on Tuesday after he said he regrets speaking 12 years ago to a white supremacist organization and condemns the views of such groups.
6:08PM ( 4 months ago )
Politics
Obama again avoids calling 1915 Armenian killings 'genocide'
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama will once again stop short of calling the 1915 massacre of Armenians a genocide, prompting anger and disappointment from those who have been pushing him to ful...
1:00PM ( 1 week ago )
Ex-NFL star Hernandez convicted of murder, sentenced to life
FALL RIVER, Mass. (AP) — Former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison Wednesday for a deadly late-night shooting, sealing the d...
8:54PM ( 2 weeks ago )
Clinton kicks off 2016 campaign online, heads next to Iowa
WASHINGTON (AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton jumped back into presidential politics on Sunday, making a much-awaited announcement she will again seek the White House with a promise to serve as the "champi...
7:56PM ( 2 weeks ago )
Hall, White, Jefferson schools recognized nationally for use of technology
Three school districts in northeast Georgia - Hall, White, and Jefferson - have received national recognition for their use use of innovative technologies. They earned top spots in the Center for Digital Education's and the National School Boards Association's 10th annual Digital School Districts Survey.
By Staff
1:00PM ( 2 weeks ago )
US Capitol lockdown lifted after man fatally shoots himself
WASHINGTON (AP) — A precautionary lockdown of the U.S. Capitol was lifted after about two hours Saturday following a suicide by a man carrying a protest sign.The man died after shooting himself on the...
6:15PM ( 3 weeks ago )