Although the issue with the Veterans Affairs Department is truly a federal one, that hasn't stopped Rick Scott from doing all he can to show that he cares about the problem. Last week he announced that Florida will sue the VA after they denied inspectors from the state's Agency for Health Care Administration access to VA hospitals.
Scott kept up the pressure today, co-signing a letter
penned by five other conservative GOP governors — Sam Brownback of Kansas, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Paul LePage of Maine, Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania and Rick Perry of Texas — requesting that President Obama initiate "significant structural and procedural changes" to the Department of Veterans Affairs, including partnering with states to improve oversight of Veterans Health Administration facilities.
"The citizens of Florida amended their State Constitution to create the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs and tasked this state agency with representing the interests of Florida veterans," the governors write in a section that highlights Florida."The agency was designed to advocate for these veterans and to intercede on their behalf, when necessary, with the federal VA. When recent reports arose of the dangerous and neglectful conditions in Florida facilities, the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration sent trained state inspectors to ensure that veterans were receiving the care they deserve. VA officials turned away these inspectors seven times at six different facilities."
Charlie Crist has bashed Scott for making the VA issue political, and says he if really cares so much about veterans in Florida he wouldn't have denied more than 41,000 of them health care by not accepting the offer by the federal government to expand Medicaid coverage (a claim that PolitiFact
has called "half-true.")
Here's a portion of the letter:
As Governors who have millions of veterans living in our states, we are deeply troubled and outraged by the significant negligence and systemic delays in patient care throughout the Veterans Affairs health system. While we believe that your decision to accept the resignation of Secretary Eric Shinseki was appropriate, this change is only the beginning of many needed reforms to protect and care for our nation’s veterans.
The dedication, service and sacrifice these individuals make on a daily basis ensures the safety and freedoms we, as Americans, enjoy and cherish. We owe these servicemen and women our sincere gratitude and appreciation, and we must demand more from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to honor the sacrifices of our American veterans.
States have taken the obligation to care for these men and women very seriously.
Reports from states around the country of wait times in a system manipulated by VA leaders to hide the growing problems are not only inexcusable, they demand your immediate and full attention. Serious reform on behalf of our veterans will require much more than a change in management.
Mr. President, you have the ability and power to right this wrong and put the health and welfare of our country’s veterans first. We stand ready and willing to assist in this most important effort to help our veterans get the quality and timely medical care they deserve.
Meanwhile, Bill Nelson has joined 10 other Democrats in co-sponsoring Marco Rubio’s legislation to reform the Department of Veterans Affairs. The legislation, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives last month with the support of 162 Democrats, would give the VA secretary the authority to fire or demote VA Senior Executive Service (SES) or equivalent employees based on performance