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Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, is appalled at reports that at least 40 U.S. veterans died after being included on a secret list to delay them needed medical treatment, and he said disgraceful practices like this could have been stopped long ago if care of U.S. veterans mattered more to President Obama.
The comments come days after the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care system was found to be keeping 1,400-1,600 veterans on a secret list to have their care delayed. Forty of them died. Three hospital administrators are currently on paid leave as an investigation proceeds.
Gohmert is not accusing the Obama administration of playing a role in the actual creation of any lists to delay care, but he believes Obama deserves a lot of the blame.
“It is clear there is a systemic problem with the Veterans Administration, and it didn’t just all of a sudden crop up under this president,” Gohmert said. “President Bush started making some inroads, and this president has made some efforts. The fact is, the buck does stop with the top commander over all of our armed forces and over all executive branch activities.”
The congressman said the president makes it very clear which issues matter most to him, and health care for vets doesn’t appear to be very high on the list.
“If the president wanted to make this as much of a central issue as he has this ‘climate-change’ issue – which allows the government to take over more people’s property and their rights and their lives – then we’d get the VA fixed very quickly,” Gohmert said.
On Tuesday, the White House released a new climate-change report, warning that its findings “underscore the need for urgent action to combat the threats from climate change, protect American citizens and communities today, and build a sustainable future for our kids and grandkids.” Obama has launched a broad national campaign this week to publicize the report.
But Gohmert said, “Apparently this climate change was global freezing back in the 1970s, then global warming and then, when it quit warming, now it’s climate change. That apparently is a much bigger issue to this administration than helping those who laid down their lives and put themselves in danger for the good of the country.”
Listen to the WND/Radio America interview with Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas:
Two major veterans organizations, including the American Legion, and several Senate Republican leaders are calling for Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign. Other veterans groups disagree. Gohmert said he reluctantly agrees that it's time for a change.
"I think that Gen. Shinseki has tried to do an appropriate job. I know he cares about veterans. But when you have a team that is just performing poorly across the board, except for a few exceptions, then I think it's time to get a new coach. It's time for him to step down and get somebody in who will have the free rein to get the VA running as it should and not just as another Obamacare facility," said Gohmert, who reiterated previous comments suggesting the bureaucratic nightmare unfolding at the VA is a preview of what we can all expect through the new health-care law.
"Some in America say we don't have to worry about repealing Obamacare because socialized medicine falls of its own weight," he said. "But that's not true. Socialized medicine never falls of its own weight. You see, what's happening in the VA is what will happen to any socialized medicine system, and it's what will happen with Obamacare: more and more government takeover. The way it avoids going broke is you put people on lists the way the VA does. So it doesn't go broke. You just don't give them the treatment they need if you don't have the funding and the backing.
"Therefore, you have people dying waiting to get the treatment they need or having to live in horrible pain because they can't get a hip replacement or a knee replacement. They have a terrible quality of life because they can't get the help they need. But the system doesn't go broke; it just puts more Americans either at risk of death or at risk of misery while they're living. That's why we need to reform health care, but we need to get rid of Obamacare once and for all."
There Department of Veterans Affairs says there are 589,767 claims currently in the VA claims inventory, and 308,285 veterans claims currently backlogged in the system. Each claim averages between 146 and 265 days to complete.
The problem is so extensive, veterans have coined a slogan to describe the government claims process: "Delay, deny, wait till I die."
Despite the massive backlogs, more than two-thirds of VA disability claims processors received $5.5 million in bonuses in 2011.
So what is Gohmert's short-term solution for veterans being denied care?
He said more choices is a great place to start.
Gohmert said, "If we got a majority of veterans to say, 'I'd rather just have a card that says I'm a veteran and I can walk into any clinic and any hospital and get the care,' then that would probably be the best thing to do for our veterans."