PHOENIX - President Barack Obama's choice to help carry out reforms at the Veterans Affairs Department will travel to Phoenix this week to meet with staff at the local VA office as pressure mounts in Washington for an overhaul of the beleaguered agency.
Obama announced last week that White House Deputy Chief of Staff Rob Nabors would be assigned to the VA after allegations of delayed care that may have led to patient deaths and a cover-up by top administrators in Phoenix. Similar claims have been reported at VA facilities in Pennsylvania, Wyoming, Georgia, Missouri, Texas, Florida and elsewhere.
Nabors was meeting today in Washington with representatives of several veterans' organizations, including the American Legion and Disabled American Veterans, among others. He will meet Thursday with leadership at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Medical Center, including with interim director Steve Young, White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
Young took over in Phoenix after director Sharon Helman was placed on leave indefinitely while the VA's Office of Inspector General investigates claims raised by several former VA employees that Phoenix administrators kept a secret list of patients waiting for appointments to hide delays in care. Critics say Helman was motivated to conceal delays to collect a bonus of about $9,000 last year.
The inspector general's office said late today that the number of VA facilities under investigation had expanded to 26. Acting Inspector General Richard Griffin told a Senate committee last week that 10 facilities were being investigated.