Oregon VA revelations 'outrage' Wyden, Merkley

Audit finds many felt pressured to manipulate, falsify data

WASHINGTON - Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., issued a joint statement of outrage Thursday upon learning from a new internal VA audit that 30 percent of VA schedulers in Roseburg and 50 percent in White City reported pressure to manipulate or falsify data.

"That's completely outrageous, and it's one of the reasons why we were proud to stand with our colleagues today and pass this urgently-needed VA reform bill," the senators said.

"This legislation will enable the VA secretary to fire VA officials for poor performance or malfeasance -- including pressuring staff to manipulate data -- and we hope he takes a hard look at using this authority," they said.

The senators said the bill also provides resources to help thousands of Oregon veterans facing unconscionably long wait times, authorizes the VA to hire more doctors and nurses, and enables veterans who can't be seen at VA facilities to more easily seek care outside the VA.

"This is an important step toward addressing the mess at the VA, but there's more to do," Wyden and Merkley said. "We will continue face-to-face meetings with Oregon VA officials and our staffs will continue to talk with veterans and advocates on how to improve access and care across the state."

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