Whistleblowers to testify about problems at VA and retaliation faced for speaking out.
The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is scheduled to hold a hearing this evening at 7:30pm, titled “VA Whistleblowers: Exposing Inadequate Service Provided to Veterans and Ensuring Appropriate Accountability,” during which several whistleblowers are expected to provide testimony.
There doesn’t appear to be much in the way of details posted at the committee’s website on the specifics of tonight’s hearing, but Politico offers this preview:
House lawmakers will hear testimony on Tuesday from whistleblowers who accuse the Department of Veterans Affairs of retaliating against them for exposing shoddy medical care.
The VA would often force whistleblowers into administrative leave after they raised concerns about lagging health care quality stemming from overworked nurses or under-staffed medical centers, according to testimony from four witnesses set to testify before the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.
The retaliation was pervasive and often carried out in a personal manner, the witnesses will testify. Katherine Mitchell, a 16-year VA employee who worked at facilities in Phoenix, said nurses there refused to care for her patients after she began complaining about issues within the medical center.
Also expected to testify is Carolyn Lerner, head of the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, an independent federal agency that investigates complaints from federal government whistleblowers.
In a letter and report sent to the White House late last month, Lerner sharply criticized the Department of Veterans Affairs for failing to adequately respond to information disclosed by whistleblowers. The report blasted the VA for downplaying the severity of various identified problems at some of its facilities. It also outlined a number of examples of what it called “part of a troubling pattern of deficient patient care at VA facilities nationwide.”
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