Secretary faces call to resign after VA wait times comment

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — 5/24/2016 — Some lawmakers in Washington are calling on the head of the Veterans Administration to step down after controversial comments about VA wait times.

Secretary Bob McDonald compared long wait times to waiting in line at Disneyland.

In a statement released Tuesday, McDonald attempted to clarify that it’s the quality of medical care that matters most.

"On Monday, I made some remarks on how we’re working to improve Veterans’ satisfaction with the care they receive from VA. It was never my intention to suggest that I don’t take our mission of serving Veterans very seriously," he said.

But despite his best efforts, Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri said McDonald needs to step down.

House Speaker Paul Ryan is also demanding answers.

"Veterans have died waiting in line for their care. Clearly, the Secretary’s comments were not worthy of the veterans he serves, but they are also indicative of a culture of indifference at the VA," House Speaker Ryan said.

House Speaker Ryan is not calling on McDonald to resign, but to clarify his comments.

"If I was misunderstood, if I said the wrong thing, I’m glad that I have the opportunity to correct it," McDonald told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell. "I’m only focused on one thing, and that’s better caring for veterans. That’s my job, that’s why I’m here."

5/23/2016 — The head of the Veterans Administration is drawing criticism for downplaying the long wait times veterans are facing to receive medical care.

Bob McDonald said Monday a veteran’s experience with the VA is more important than wait times.

A recent government study found that half of all newly enrolled veterans could not receive proper care because VA staffed did not schedule appointments in accordance with VA policy.

"When you go to Disneyland, do they measure the number of house you wait in life? Or what’s important?" McDonald said to reporters.

Presidential candidates Donald Trump criticized McDonald in a tweet, saying, "Obama’s VA Secretary just said we shouldn’t measure wait times. Hillary says VA problems are not ‘widespread.’ I will take care of our vets!"

And local congressman, Duncan D. Hunter, had this to say:

 "This just shows how out of touch the Secretary and he Administration are when it comes to veterans care. Yes, it’s as much about appointment wait times as it is about the quality of the experience."

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