CINCINNATI (AP) — Ohio’s U.S. senators on Wednesday urged quick federal action to probe allegations about mismanagement and declining veterans’ care at the Cincinnati VA hospital.
Sen. Rob Portman, of the Cincinnati area, commented on a WCPO-TV and Scripps News Washington Bureau report that nearly three dozen current and former medical center employees have expressed urgent concerns about quality of care. They blame cost-cutting and other practices they said have reduced access to care and raised safety questions.
“These are very troubling allegations,” Portman, a Republican, said after speaking at the Queen City Mobile Summit focused on tech startups and other small businesses. “Our veterans deserve the best health care.”
Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Cleveland Democrat, said the accusations “are appalling” and that veterans’ care is a top priority.
The Department of Veterans Affairs said recently it has opened an investigation into its Cincinnati hospital. It offered little detail.
“I fully support the Inspector General’s investigation and I will work to ensure that it is completed quickly and thoroughly,” Brown, who is on the Senate veterans’ affairs committee, said in a statement. “This can’t be just another report that gets filed away on a shelf.”
Portman said he’s reached out to the Senate committee on veterans affairs and that he could also “move on it separately” with the permanent subcommittee on investigations. He also asks veterans to share their experiences at a veterans’ issues portal on his Senate website.
The hospital annually delivers medical care to more than 43,000 veterans from southwest Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. A message for comment was left there Wednesday.
Jack Hetrick, who oversees the VA’s regional network for Ohio, told The Cincinnati Enquirer he was limited in what he could say about the VA probe, other than that “they have been reviewing a number of employee allegations about certain things at the hospital.”
The VA said in its recent statement that it has temporarily shifted oversight of the Cincinnati medical center to another region.