PHOENIX - Arizona Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake responded to an Office of Inspector General report released on Wednesday showing that 1,700 veterans needing health care at the Phoenix VA hospital never made it to waiting lists for appointments.
Sen. John McCain said he believes that VA Secretary Eric Shinseki should step down.
"And if Secretary Shinseki does not step down voluntarily, then I call on the President of The United States to relieve him of his duties, fire him," said McCain during a news conference Wednesday afternoon.
He said given the breadth and seriousness of the allegations veterans have lost confidence in their ability to get the health care they have earned.
Sen. Jeff Flake said there’s been a 60 percent increase in funding for the VA and that Congress was told wait times were 14 days.
McCain called on Obama to put together a group, including veterans’ organizations, to have them come up with solutions to the issues.
McCain said that following the release of the inspector general’s report, there should be a criminal investigation.
"This issue has a reached a level that requires the Justice Department involvement, the allegations aren't just administrative problems," said McCain. "These are criminal problems we need the FBI and The Department of Justice involved in this investigation."
Shinseki released a statement following the report’s release saying he has reviewed the report and called the findings “reprehensible.”
Shinseki said he has directed the Phoenix VA health system to immediately triage the 1,700 veterans identified by the OIG to get them “timely care.”
The White House released a brief statement, saying the president found the findings “extremely troubling.”
McCain said ignorance is not a rationale for a situation that has flourished for a number of years.