This morning, U.S. Senator John Thune (R-South Dakota) joined CBS’s “Face the Nation” to discuss the ongoing nationwide crisis at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
Excerpts of Thune’s interview are available below and video of Thune’s interview on the VA crisis is available here.
On the Obama administration’s response to the VA scandal:
“Well first off, I think the president just waited way too long to get into this, Major. That was the issue that many of us were raising. You had reports of up to 40 people who died on waiting lists, you had these reports of secret lists and falsifying records, and all of those sorts of things, and it took three weeks for the president to act. I'm glad that he's engaging. The things that were said yesterday about giving veterans access to non-VA facilities if they can't get into VA facilities, I think, is a welcome change.”
On the need for a top-to-bottom IG review of the VA:
“We’ve got a failure—a basic failure—of the institutions that hasn’t been associated with funding because we know that funding has been increased by 60 percent over last five years to the VA. We need a top-to-bottom review by the inspector general, system-wide, that points out and gives us an idea how to proceed. I think one of the things is we've got to have more accountability, more transparency, about not only waiting lists but outcomes at the VA. We also have to come up with a better model of delivering care to our veterans so they don't have these waits. This is a real tragedy. These are people with whom we have a sacred trust and that has been betrayed. We need to make sure that it's fixed.”
On providing for those who risked everything for us:
“We're talking about the men and women who put their lives on the line, who risk everything for us, and we need to have a system of health care that gives them the highest possible quality care in a timely way and do it in the most cost effective way. That ought to be what we're focused on. And I think right now you're seeing a high level of frustration, and the only way that we're going to get to the bottom of this is to have that, I think, that full-blown investigation and then look at better ways of delivering health care services to America's veterans.”