VA Official Steps Down Amidst Scandal

WASHINGTON—The VA announced that VA Under Secretary of Health Robert A. Petzel, MD, has stepped down from this position.

In a written statement, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said that he had “accepted the resignation of Dr. Robert Petzel.”

“As we know from the veteran community, most veterans are satisfied with the quality of their VA health care, but we must do more to improve timely access to that care,” he said in a written statement.

The announcement of the resignation came a day after Shinseki and Petzel appeared before the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs where they were questioned by lawmakers about allegations of patient deaths and treatment delays at a VA hospital in Phoenix. The VA IG is currently conducting an investigation of the allegations.

The announcement of Petzel’s resignation was criticized by some who pointed out that Petzel was already scheduled to retire in 2014.

“…President Obama has already announced his intention to nominate Petzel’s replacement, so characterizing this as a ‘resignation’ just doesn’t pass the smell test,” House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL) said in a written statement.

American Legion National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger, who has called on the resignation of Shinseki and Petzel, said in a written statement that “this move by VA is not a corrective action, but a continuation of business as usual.”

“Dr. Petzel was already scheduled to retire this year, so his resignation now really won’t make that much of a difference,” his statement said.

According to his bio, Petzel was appointed VA under secretary for health on Feb. 18, 2010. Prior to this appointment, Petzel had served as VA’s acting principal deputy under secretary for health since May 2009.



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  1. Dr. Sherman M. Harman says:

    First, the “40 deaths” was an informal back of the envelope calculation projected from wait times. How many deaths there actually were in veterans waiting for primary or specialty care is speculative, and how many of them might have been preventable is more speculative still, yet the press has been treating this assertion as fact. Second, the PVAHCS administrative team that is being savaged was actually making progress in reducing wait times by improving efficiency and hiring additional primary care providers. Excessive wait times for medical appointments is a VA-wide problem reflecting shortages of providers and space due in part to VA salary differentials vs. the private sector, in part to insufficient funding from Congress for VA expansion to meet the growing needs, and in part to administrative delays that follow from arcane and byzantine regulations and procedures. More, there is a national shortage of primary care providers because of they way we (the insurance companies) compensate them, and this is going to get worse. Firing VA administrators may be a “feel-good,” photo-op strategy, but is NOT going to help our vets get the care they have earned and deserve.

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