The highest-paid Department of Veterans Affairs executives and doctors in Phoenix, where the deadly treatment scandal was exposed, were paid a total of about $70 million from 2011 to 2013, according to a government transparency website.
The pay rates, topping out at nearly $360,000 per year per worker, were revealed in an Open The Books search just as a report reached Congress showing veterans were forced to wait 115 days for treatment.
Among the 100 top-paid federal employees in the city of Phoenix for the most recent reporting period, only a handful did not work for the VA. The other employees, who worked for the Department of Health and Human Services, topped out at nearly $100,000 less than the top-paid VA staff members.
There are about 7,000 federal payroll employees in the city.
Open The Books founder Adam Andrzejewski confirmed to WND that the top 100 VA workers over the 2011-2013 period took home a base salary of about $70 million, almost exclusively for physician and executive duties.
But he also said there were about 60 highly paid executives “outside of direct medical care” for every 40 physicians in that category.
He said the figures support a demand developing in Congress that the VA have more doctors and fewer administrators to respond to the needs of America’s veterans.
Open The Books, a project of American Transparency, a 501(c)3 nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, makes available a wide range of data on public spending.
Funded by donations, it does not charge fees for its work.
The portal to federal spending says it already contains more than 1 billion lines of government spending.
“We are rapidly expanding data in all 50 states down to the municipal level and investing in the latest technologies to slice and display the data. Our goal is to acquire and post online an additional one billion lines of government spending during 2014,” the site states.
The site reveals that the top 1,299 federal workers in Phoenix – the vast majority of them working for the VA – have salaries of more than $100,000. All of them make more than the governor of Arizona, Republican Jan. Brewer, who is paid a $95,000 salary.
According to the database, the highest paid VA employee in Phoenix is George Swartz, an orthopedic surgeon, at $357,428 annually. Another dozen earn more than $300,000.
CNN first reported that at least 40 U.S. veterans died there waiting for appointments after VA officials placed them on “secret” waiting lists that were created only to cover up the real wait times for the vets.
The report Wednesday to Congress showed the average wait time was 115 days. Hundreds of veterans were not on wait lists at all, it said.
While the scandal started with the Phoenix hospital, it has now reached 42 facilities, even as top VA officials have failed to appear when called before the House Committee on Veterans Affairs.
Chairman Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., is calling for the resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki.
“Shinseki is a good man who has served his country honorably, but he has failed to get VA’s health care system in order despite repeated and frequent warnings from Congress, the Government Accountability Office and the IG,” said Miller in a statement. “What’s worse, to this day, Shinseki — in both word and deed — appears completely oblivious to the severity of the health care challenges facing the department.”
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Miller also said a criminal investigation should be launched by Attorney General Eric Holder.
WND reported that President Obama long has been aware of the VA problems. During his transition into the White House in 2008-09, he proposed in his “Obama-Biden” plan to “make the VA a leader of national health care reform so that veterans get the best care possible.”
However, instead of fixing the VA, the administration has had to defend its role in the deaths of veterans by neglect. Critics have pointed that that the VA model is what the scandal-plagued Obamacare system seems to be copying.
Obama, during a failed run for Congress in 2000, called for a health-care plan would have duplicated portions of the VA system.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has blamed the VA problems on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars that began under the George W. Bush administration, which, she said, have overloaded the system with veterans.
But John Merline at Investor’s Business Daily found that while the VA budget has been surging, the number of veterans has dropped.
VA spending nearly tripled from 2000 to 2013 while the population of veterans declined by 4.3 million.