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Sen. McCain addresses feds regarding Phoenix VA officials returning to work

U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., announces the launch of the "Unidos Con McCain" Hispanic coalition at the El Mercado De Los Cielos mall, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015, in Phoenix. McCain is trying to woo Hispanic voters to his re-election effort by putting together a coalition of Latino business leaders who back the Republican. (AP Photo/Matt York)

PHOENIX — Arizona Sen. John McCain penned a letter on Wednesday to a federal official in regard to the employment of several officials involved in alleged manipulation within the Phoenix Veterans Affairs hospital, according to a recent press release.

McCain wrote and publicly released his letter to Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald regarding the imminent return of two senior Phoenix VA officials who were suspended for a year and a half after allegedly manipulating wait times for veterans.

In the letter, McCain stated he was “disturbed” that the VA has allowed the cases involving excessive wait times for veterans to continue for so long without resolution.

“I do not understand why these two cases have been allowed to be delayed for this long under your leadership,” the letter read.

He also asked for McDonald to provide him with a “detailed explanation” of the delays and updates on the status of all current and former Phoenix VA officials who are currently suspended or on paid leave and are awaiting administrative action.

McCain also mentioned the recent Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing regarding issues at the Phoenix VA hospital and claimed senior officials “repeatedly” gave inaccurate testimony regarding the inaction against the two officials.

“The return of these two officials to work elsewhere in the VA pending their investigation implies that there are no actions expected against these individuals in the near future,” the letter read.

Although the two officials are scheduled to work at the regional headquarters office, not the Phoenix hospital, McCain said the repeated inaction by Phoenix VA officials proves their continued misconduct and contributes to the growing mistrust by veterans.

“I continue to be extremely disappointed by the VA’s refusal to hold senior executives accountable for manipulating veterans’ wait-times in order to get bigger bonuses,” McCain said in a statement. “By allowing these individuals to return to work, the VA has clearly demonstrated that these cases will drag on even longer.”

McCain said he believes McDonald should bear the full responsibility for the inaction taken by officials at the Phoenix VA hospital.

“Secretary McDonald is singularly responsible for the VA’s refusal to take action and its failure to expeditiously hold personnel responsible for the gross mismanagement and neglect of our veterans at the Phoenix VA and VA hospitals around the country,” he said in a statement.

In December, a whistleblower found the Phoenix VA is reportedly still short of doctors, despite the facility making changes in the wake of the national scandal.

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