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Honorable Tim Walz

Representing the 1st District of MINNESOTA

Walz & Veterans Groups Meet with Local VA Officials to Talk Wait Times for Medical Care

May 14, 2014
Press Release

Mankato, MN [5/14/14] – Today, Representative Tim Walz (MN-01) and a group of leaders from local veterans’ service organizations visited U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical facilities in Mankato, Minneapolis and Rochester to request information from local officials about wait times for medical care.   Walz is a member of the House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations that is looking into the troubling allegations of a secret wait list for veterans at the Phoenix, Arizona hospital. 

“As both a veteran and a member of this committee, I expect our warriors to receive the support and care they have earned and deserve. I will be the VA’s strongest ally, but also their harshest critic when warranted. The allegations coming out of the Phoenix VA are extremely troubling and have rattled peoples' faith in the system.  I am concerned that unless we get all of the facts on the table more damage will be done to the confidence of veterans seeking care.   I appreciate the cooperation I'm receiving from local VA officials with my inquiry."

Last week, Walz joined the House Veterans Affairs Committee in voting unanimously to subpoena certain emails and written correspondence from VA officials, including VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, in an effort to provide oversight and get to the bottom of allegations of a “secret wait list” at the Phoenix, Arizona VA hospital. 

There is no evidence of a “secret wait list” at Minnesota VA facilities, but Walz is asking for a full accounting of the data and the appointment scheduling process used locally.  Specifically, Walz questioned local VA officials about "wait times" veterans are experiencing when seeking care locally.  

“My goals are to get to the bottom of what happened in Phoenix and determine whether these allegations are widespread in the VA across the country.  This includes getting a full accounting of the scheduling process used at our local VA facilities.  Ultimately, any problems that are discovered must be fixed, people must be held accountable, and the VA must restore veterans’ full faith in the system.  Veterans who need medical care can't be discouraged from seeking treatment or turned away when they need services."  

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UPDATE:

The VA recently provided Walz with the following information regarding appointment wait times (See links below). It should be noted that this is not a full accounting of the data nor does it fully answer Representative Walz’s questions he laid out in his May 9 letter to VISN Director Murphy. While Representative Walz was told during the meeting that there was no evidence of a secret wait list in Minnesota, he is still demanding from the VA a full accounting of the data and scheduling processes used in order to verify what he was told and to get full answers to the questions laid out in his May 9 letter.

Please see the links below for the May 9 letter to Director Murphy and for more information from the VA.

Rep. Walz’s Letter to VISN Director Murphy

PDF of VA’s Presentation to Rep. Walz on Wait Times

Fact Sheet from the VA on Wait Times in Minneapolis, Mankato, and Rochester