'What the hell happened?': Boehner demands VA reform plan from Obama

BY SUSAN FERRECHIO | MAY 20, 2015 | 1:08 PM

"This isn't run of the mill incompetence," Boehner said. "It's arrogance that allows our vets to...House Speaker John Boehner Wednesday called on President Obama to come up with a "long term plan" to reform the Department of Veterans Affairs, which remains plagued with problems a year after the resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki.

"Instead of a new day at the VA, the American people are seeing more of the same," Boehner said in a floor speech.

Boehner pledged to keep giving floor speeches about the VA, "until the administration produces such a plan."

The VA's notoriously long wait times for veterans to obtain medical care have not improved, Boehner said, and the department is still plagued with waste, fraud and abuse.

"This isn't run of the mill incompetence," Boehner said. "It's arrogance that allows our vets to be lied to and ignored and, frankly, to die."

Congress last year passed a VA reform bill that pumped new money into the system to improve medical care, and it included a measure that was supposed to make it easier to fire incompetent VA employees.

But neither improvement has been realized, Boehner said, adding that the number of veterans waiting longer than 90 days for care has doubled since last year.

Despite the discovery of hidden waitlists at more than 100 VA facilities, only one person has been fired, Boehner said, asking, "What the hell happened to the rest of them?"

Boehner said employees who were behind the VA mismanagement received little to no punishment and were instead transferred, allowed to retire or given a "slap on the wrist."

Meanwhile, the VA has been engaged in more mismanagement in building new hospitals, spending inappropriately and overspending on conferences. A hospital in Colorado that was originally expected to cost $328 million is now expected to cost $1.7 billion, which has led to new inquiries in Congress.

"If only VA bureaucrats did as good a job taking care of our veterans as they do themselves," Boehner said.