NPR Story
1:46 pm
Mon April 28, 2014

Obama: Claims Of Neglect At VA Hospital Being Taken 'Very Seriously'

Originally published on Mon April 28, 2014 2:47 pm

President Obama said today that his administration will look into allegations that 40 veterans in Arizona died while waiting for medical appointments at the VA health care center in Phoenix, Arizona.

Carrie Jung has been covering this story for KJZZ in Phoenix and joins Here & Now’s Robin Young with details.

Guest

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Transcript

JEREMY HOBSON, HOST:

President Obama said today that his administration is going to look into allegations that 40 veterans in Arizona died while waiting for medical appointments at the VA health care center in Phoenix. Carrie Jung has been covering this story for HERE AND NOW contributing station KJZZ. She's with us from Phoenix. Carrie, remind us what this is all about. It came to light because of a congressional report.

CARRIE JUNG: Yes, it came to light a few weeks ago because of a congressional report that alleged that about 40 veterans may have died as a result of a delay in care. There have been some allegations of very long waiting times for these veterans to receive care at the Phoenix VA medical center.

HOBSON: And how is the VA there explaining itself or defending itself?

JUNG: Well, according to Senators McCain and Flake, who had met with VA administrators just a couple of weeks ago, they had denied the allegations of what they were - they've been accused of having secret waiting lists that misrepresented the amount of time that veterans were waiting for appointments.

And so according to Senator McCain, the administrators were denying those allegations.

HOBSON: And what are veterans there saying?

JUNG: Veterans are - well, they're pretty pleased with the amount and level of response from Washington that they're seeing, but on some level they're also pretty frustrated. One veteran who attended the press conference that McCain and - where Senators McCain and Flake attended a few weeks ago, she spoke up and said that, you know, what are veterans supposed to do right now who are waiting for care and need care immediately.

HOBSON: And now we've got these comments today from President Obama, who is in Asia and talking about this and more attention on Capitol Hill. Carrie, this is all coming as there's a bill in Washington being pushed to perhaps deal with this.

JUNG: Yes, so the Phoenix chapter of Concerned Veterans for America says they've been organizing some rallies and also pushing for the Veterans Affairs Management Accountability Act of 2014. And that's basically just to make it a little bit easier to firm some management at the VA, just everywhere, not just the Phoenix VA center. But it would solve problems like this, so that this doesn't happen again.

HOBSON: Carrie Jung...

JUNG: According to them.

HOBSON: Carrie, great, thank you so much, reporter with KJZZ in Phoenix. Thanks a lot, Carrie.

JUNG: All right, thank you.

HOBSON: And some other stories we're following. As we mentioned, President Obama is wrapping up his trip to Asia. In response to the president's visit to Seoul over the weekend, North Korea made some inflammatory and sexist remarks toward the South Korean president. Also tornado season has started. One of the first storms of the year caused a lot of damage in the northern suburbs or Little Rock, Arkansas, at least 16 people have died.

And scientists in Spain are using ground-penetrating radar to search for the body of Spain's most famous author. Although the author died four centuries ago, he is believed to be buried under the altar of a medieval convent in Madrid, which is now surrounded by tapas bars in the city's nightlife district. You can find out who I am talking about later today on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. This is HERE AND NOW. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.