McCain, Flake call for investigation into Phoenix VA

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By Matthew Seeman By Matthew Seeman
By Matthew Seeman By Matthew Seeman
By Matthew Seeman By Matthew Seeman
By Matthew Seeman By Matthew Seeman
By Matthew Seeman By Matthew Seeman

PHOENIX -- A visit from Arizona's two senators Friday regarding allegations against the Phoenix VA Medical Center has put the hospital under increased scrutiny, and the VA is speaking out.

Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake met with Phoenix VA officials in response to accusations from Florida Rep. Jeff Miller, who has said that as many as 40 veterans have died as a result delayed medical treatment from the VA.

Miller, who chairs the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, has also accused hospital officials of covering up the long wait times with a secret list.

In a press conference, the two senators said they do not believe the officials were aware of any delay-related deaths or any attempts to cover them up.

However, McCain said veterans still deserve confirmation.

"I will accept their denial, but we need a thorough and complete investigation -- one that can be brought to our veterans community as to whether it’s credible or not," he said.

Sharon Helman, director of the Phoenix VA, told 3TV’s Dennis Welch she and the hospital take Miller’s allegations very seriously.

"I am not aware of any secret list, nor did I direct staff to have a secret list," Helman said.

She has called for a federal investigation, which is set to begin next week, and said the hospital will act swiftly if the Office of the Inspector General finds any wrongdoing.

McCain and Flake both called on the Senate to join the House of Representatives in investigating the allegations.

"Some of the allegations that have been raised recently appear indicative of broader trends that we have observed regarding the VA’s failure to provide quality health care to our veterans," McCain said.

Officials have also said they hired additional staff to cope with any potential delays, and McCain and Flake said they would add to their in-state staff to assist with veterans having problems with the hospital.