President Obama seems to pay more attention to the NBA than he does to the VA.
It took only a day after the word spread about controversy roiling the basketball world before the president commented Sunday on a racist tirade made by a man believed to be Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling. But it wasn’t until Monday, more than a week after the scandal broke that Obama saw fit to comment publicly on poor care at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Medical Center being linked to up to 40 veterans’ deaths.
“We take the allegations very seriously,” Obama said – not very convincingly – when asked specifically about the scandal by Fox News’ Ed Henry during a news conference in Manila.
Former VA secretary Anthony Principi does take it seriously, though.
Principi, who ran the VA under President Bush from 2001 to 2005, told Megyn Kelly on Monday that the veterans’ deaths could be a criminal matter that should be pursued up the chain of command.
Last week, a former doctor at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care System told CNN the hospital had been maintaining two lists of patient appointments. One list, which showed the hospital was seeing patients shortly after they sought help, was shown to the public and officials in Washington.
But a secret list showed some veterans were still not being treated for more than a year. The CNN report showed up to 40 veterans died while waiting for the health care they had earned.
“What happened at the Phoenix VA medical center is unconscionable, unacceptable, and in my mind possibly criminal,” Principi said during an interview on “The Kelly File.”
“It’s incomprehensible to me that if these … computer systems were manipulated, people up the chain of command did not know about it, they should have known about it,” Principi said.
When Kelly pressed, Principi stopped short of placing the blame for the Phoenix scandal directly on VA Secretary Eric Shineski, but said the deaths highlighted systemic flaws in the world’s largest health care system.
“Either resources are not available, or people are not following the regulations, and that’s where the [leadership] failure comes in,” Principi said.
And that’s where an inspector general’s office investigation comes in.
“They can be trusted to make the right decisions to advise the secretary,” Principi told Kelly.
“The secretary has to take that decisive action, to hold his senior leaders accountable.”
Check out Kelly’s interview with Principi here.
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