Physician senator to Obama:  VA needs great manager at the helm
June 14th, 2014
02:05 PM ET
2 months ago

Physician senator to Obama: VA needs great manager at the helm

Sen. Tom Coburn, a physician and three-time cancer survivor, says he knows firsthand “how frustrating the wait to see a doctor can be.”

That’s why, the Republican from Oklahoma says, President Barack Obama should nominate a new Veterans Affairs secretary with the “management skills, leadership ability and determination” to fix the problems at the scandal-plagued department.


Likening the VA to a “bureaucratic maze,” Coburn says veterans are suffering to receive care in a timely manner. He cites the three-month long wait times for some veterans, revealed in a recently released VA audit, as an example of the department’s dysfunction. “It screams of government incompetency.”

“In the last four years, the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee has held just a handful of hearings touching on veterans’ health,” Coburn said in a GOP weekly address. “This committee’s only responsibility is to ensure veterans are being taken care of and it has failed to do its job.”

Over the past seven months, CNN has reported on the problems at the VA, including managers across the country that have been using secret waiting lists to cover up how long it actually takes for some veterans to get appointments at VA medical facilities. In light of the reports, and the VA audit that echoes many of their findings, Coburn says Congress should pass legislation to make every hospital a VA hospital.

“If a VA center is inconveniently located, veterans should be free to choose another doctor,” Coburn said. “VA hospitals serve an important and unique role but veterans should be allowed to choose where, when and from whom they receive treatment ... If a VA center is inconveniently located, veterans should be free to choose another doctor.”

Despite his frustration, Coburn cites the recent passage of a VA bill in the Senate as a step in the right direction. Noting the provision in the bill which would allow veterans to receive care at hospitals closer to home, or otherwise see a doctor outside of the VA, Coburn says, “Bureaucrats would no longer override veterans’ choices.”

soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Name JK. SFL. THE GOP HOWDEE GOWDEE SHOW with special guest ISSA the CLOWN

    This QUACK FAKE doctor has nothing intelligent to say and has accomplished nothing in his YEARS congress and should just SHUT UP and go home, so much for GOP accomplishments !!!!!

    June 14, 2014 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    Why doesn't the President name Alan Mullaly to run the Department of Veterans Affairs. He is retiring (I think this month) as the President at Ford Motor Company. He said he didn't know what he would do. Since the President only has a couple of years to go, this would probably be fun for him. He is a terrific manager says people who know this.

    Len Eddinger
    Tacoma, Washington

    June 14, 2014 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  3. yoonyoungjo

    Maybe not just having strong leadership but real accountability. Although I don't know what the investigation will reveal but if its revealed that VA Management was hiding, intimidating and basically commit fraud to acquire performance bonuses, heads must roll. That to me as low as you can get. Conducting a conspiracy to fatten your own pockets at the expense of the unknowing.

    June 14, 2014 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  4. Thomas

    And get rid of any corrupt official that is an obstruction , it's time to clean house . why in America do we pay a bonus for incompetence and failure ?

    June 14, 2014 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  5. Marcus (from...?)

    The guy that made a full blood & behavior analysis based on a vídeo still thinks he has qualifications to address any issue?

    June 14, 2014 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  6. don in albuquerque

    Thomas
    Too far reaching....afterall we continue to pay Congress.

    June 14, 2014 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  7. Marie MD

    Where has this clown been for decades? All of the sudden the VA problems are all Obama's fault and the useles teaklans pretend that they care. Just like they did when they voted against more money for more VA hospitals while our President increased the VA budget?
    Doctor? What a laugh.

    June 14, 2014 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  8. A Kickin' Donkey

    The Senator's background as a doctor is COMPLETELY IRRELEVANT to making an informed comment about who should run the VA.

    I wish the media had enough smarts and cajones to back up democrats or Republicans that trot out resume items that really don't make a person an expert for the thing that they are commenting on.

    What the VA needs is a management consultant experienced in re-organizing and restructuring businesses to be high performing, LEAN organizations. It needs someone with OPERATIONAL EXCELLENCE and TURNAROUND experience first.

    June 14, 2014 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  9. Tony in Maine

    I've spent half the last two years in one doctors office or another. In most the wait is negligible. The one thing that annoys me is the doctor who is jumped to the head of the line because he is "busy" or a colleague. Once he had his degree, Add "Senator" to the name and they'd probably kick a wounded grandmother out of the examining room to make space

    Coburn never waited over three seconds to get into an exam room. Not only is he he science denier, he's a liar.

    June 15, 2014 06:08 am at 6:08 am |