The inspector general's office for the Department of Veterans Affairs is expected to release its report this week on the covered-up lengthy wait times veterans endured at the the VA hospital in Phoenix, Arizona. Reports have blamed the deaths of 40 veterans on that tardy care, but new VA Secretary Robert McDonald says that the IG report "was unable to conclusively assert that the absence of timely quality care caused the deaths of these veterans," The New York Times reports.
McDonald makes that assertion in a letter to the IG's office, though he acknowledges that the "case reviews in the report document substantial delays in care, and quality of care concerns." Deputy VA Secretary Sloan Gibson was contrite in an interview with The Times. "I'm relieved that they didn't attribute deaths to delays in care, but it doesn't excuse what was happening," he said. "It's still patently clear that the fundamental issue here is that veterans were waiting too long for care, and there was misbehavior masking how long veterans were waiting for care."
The scandal at the Phoenix VA hospital led to hospital director Sharon Helman being placed on leave, en route to job termination, the resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, revelations of long wait times at other VA facilities, and a $15 billion bill from Congress to help veterans get more urgent care.