By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Weeks ago, we learned that American veterans in Arizona were systematically being denied care by career bureaucrats within the U.S. Veterans Administration. Since then the true breadth of the scandal has begun to trickle out. On Monday, June 9, a report will be released revealing misconduct at the Central Alabama VA. U.S. Representative Martha Roby (R) from Montgomery expressed her outrage over the revelation that employees within the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System (CAVHCS) falsified records to hide long wait times for veterans care.
The Montgomery Advertiser is reporting that a Federal audit to be released Monday will show CAVHCS to be one of 84 VA facilities nationwide being investigated for “unethical scheduling practices.” The Central Alabama System is expected to be classified amongst the most serious cases.
Congresswoman Roby said, “I hear from area veterans everyday who experience difficulty dealing with the VA. Their stories and this report confirm what we’ve suspected for some time about the pattern of neglect and mismanagement within the VA.” “It is disgusting and infuriating to know that the atrocious behavior we have heard about elsewhere has been happening right here in Central Alabama.”
On Friday Rep. Roby met with CAVHCS Director James Talton to discuss the upcoming report. Talton said that when he discovered the suspicious discrepancies within his system, he alerted the Inspector General and then terminated the employees who were responsible.
Rep. Roby said, “I appreciate Director Talton for taking responsibility and holding bad actors accountable since discovering the misconduct. But, this isn’t over. Anyone found to have mistreated veterans, altered wait list documents, or been complicit with such behavior should be immediately terminated and possibly prosecuted.”
The conservative Congresswoman said, “More than anything we must find ways to fix the problems that have led to these outrageous wait times. I am deeply involved in VA reform efforts in Congress, seeking commonsense, bi-partisan changes that will get our veterans the care they deserve.”
Rep. Roby supports the VA both Nationally and locally utilizing its Patient-Centered Community Care (PC3) program, which allows VA medical centers to contract with local, non-VA health care providers for services like mental health care or specialized treatment. Roby’s office said in the statement that utilizing local, non-VA care options through PC3 can greatly improve access to care, especially in places like Central Alabama where demand exceeds the local facility’s resources or personnel.
Rep. Roby is a Member of the Appropriations Subcommittee for Military Construction and Veterans Affairs. Through her role on the powerful Appropriations committee, Roby pushed for and succeeded at including language within the Fiscal Year 2015 MilCon-VA Appropriations Committee Report directing the Department of Veterans Affairs to document the success and cost effectiveness of PC3 in order to establish the program as a viable alternative for more VA medical centers and more veteran patients.
The Department of Veterans Affairs has over 300,000 employees and operates a string of 150 hospitals nationwide where federal workers are supposed to take care of the healthcare needs of America’s veterans. Alabama has among the highest rate of veterans in the populace.
Representative Roby is seeking a third term in the U.S. Congress this fall.