Democratic candidate for President Hillary Clinton said the Department of Veterans' Affairs scandals is not a "widespread" problem, despite malpractice and neglect occurring nationwide. "Veteran-centered reform will only happen when politicians acknowledge the widespread institutional rot at the VA. With her comments Friday, Mrs. Clinton has shown that she is part of the problem, not the solution".
Clinton was asked about the VA's backlog issues during an interview Friday with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow. Yesterday the campaign clarified that she recognized reforms are needed within the VA to address the "systemic" problems, but expressed her opposition to privatizing the department as some have suggested.
A poll released just last week found that 91 percent of veterans and active duty military want veterans' healthcare to be reformed in the near future.
"Hillary Clinton's remarks... show a total lack of appreciation for the crisis facing veterans' healthcare today", McCain wrote.
But most lawmakers are supporting giving veterans a choice between public and private treatment - especially since wait times for seeing a VA doctor can threaten the health of veterans.
"The problems we've seen at the Phoenix VA are devastating and real", Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz.
"We have to answer a fundamental question: Why do these benefits exist?" It is unclear how many of those veterans had been on the lists past the window mandated by the VA. But, she argued, the problem goes deeper than slow wait times.
McCain says Clinton "owes an apology to the families of the veterans who lost their loved ones due to mismanagement and corruption in the federal government".
But Paul Rieckhoff, founder and CEO of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, or IAVA, called her comments a "head-scratcher".
"Whether it's continued delays in veterans' medical care, the blatant waste of billions of taxpayer dollars or a rampant lack of accountability throughout every corner of the organization, there is simply no denying that the problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs are indeed widespread", Miller said. A Sisyphean task? Perhaps, but given Clinton's record of standing by America's soldiers in Libya, she hardly has the best interests of veterans in mind.