Rep. John Barrow and a Republican congressman from Louisiana announced Tuesday they want a special prosecutor to investigate misconduct at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Legislation would ask the Justice Department to take the action and is expected to be filed Wednesday. It comes after a VA audit found more than 57,000 veterans nationwide waiting more than 90 days for an appointment. In some cases, schedulers were told by supervisors to alter appointment request dates to make wait times appear shorter.
Both Barrow, an Augusta Democrat, and Rep. Bill Cassidy, a Republican, represent VA Medical Centers identified as needing further review in the audit.
“We’re just beginning to get the full picture of the problems at the VA, and the resignation of one person isn’t going to fix what’s broken,” Barrow said in a news release. “We have to make sure we hold all of the appropriate people responsible, and do whatever it takes to make sure it never happens again. The best way to move forward is to appoint a special counsel to investigate the allegations in this report. If they’re found to be true, crimes have been committed, and those responsible should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
In an interview with The Augusta Chronicle, Bob Hamilton, the director of the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta, said Friday he was surprised the hospital was on the list and that he is not concerned about a follow-up visit by auditors.
The VA revealed 134 new patients enrolled for care at the Augusta hospital in the past decade have never had an appointment. Additionally, the report, which was completed after a May 14 site visit, showed three patients still waiting for initial medical appointments 90 days or more after requesting them.