While mainstream media coverage of the serious allegations of improper practices at certain Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health clinics has been extensive in recent weeks, a bill to expand health care for veterans that was blocked by Senate Republicans in February received little attention.
VA Inspector General Investigates Alleged Improper Scheduling Practices At Clinics
Wash. Post: VA Launches Investigation Into Allegations Of Improper Scheduling Practices At VA Health Clinics. On May 15, the Washington Post reported that Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki testified to the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee following the launch of the VA's inspector investigation into "multiple reports of alleged preventable deaths and attempts to cover up treatment delays at VA health clinics."
The Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee called Shinseki to testify after multiple reports of alleged preventable deaths and attempts to cover up treatment delays at VA health clinics. Whistleblowers have said a Phoenix VA hospital kept delays off the books with secret waiting lists that allegedly included dozens of patients who died while waiting for care.
The department's inspector general has launched an investigation of the allegations, and Shinseki ordered face-to-face audits of scheduling practices at all VA health clinics. The secretary has promised to take action on the reviews when they are complete. [Washington Post, 5/15/14]
Senate GOP Blocked Legislation Expanding Veterans Health Care
In February, Senate GOP Blocked Bill To Expand Veterans' Health Care, Open 27 New VA Health Facilities. Citing budget concerns, Senate Republicans blocked legislation in February introduced by Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-VT) that would have greatly expanded health care and education programs for veterans and allowed the VA to open 27 new health facilities:
Veterans groups expressed frustration with the bill's failure, saying it fell victim to Washington's partisan politics. The measure was four votes shy of a 60-vote threshold required for it to have advanced.
The legislation called for expanding several veterans benefits, including dental and medical care, educational assistance and the caretaker stipends that currently apply only to post-Sept. 11 veterans. It also required the repeal of a recent cut to the cost-of-living adjustments for future military retirees and would have allowed VA to open 27 new health facilities. [The Washington Post, 2/27/14]
Mainstream Media Outlets Largely Ignored Senate GOP's Blocking Veterans Bill
Broadcast Evening News Shows Completely Ignored GOP's Blocking Veterans Health Legislation. Based on a LexisNexis search television transcripts from February 26 to 28, the veterans health bill was not covered by ABC World News, NBC Nightly News, or CBS Evening News. [5/23/14, via LexisNexis]
New York Times And Wall Street Journal Did Not Cover Senate Republicans' Successful Attempt To Kill Veterans Bill. Based on a LexisNexis search of news articles from February 26 to 28, neither the New York Times nor the Wall Street Journal reported on Senate Republicans' obstruction of the legislation that would have allowed the VA to open 27 new health facilities. [5/23/14, via LexisNexis]