Florida Congressman Vern Buchanan: The House Needs to Investigate VA Nursing Homes

By: KEVIN DERBY – Sunshine State News

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., is calling for a congressional investigation after reports found almost of VA nursing homes across the country are getting the lowest possible marks.

Pointing to an investigative articles from USA Today and the Boston Globe which noted many VA run nursing homes suffered from neglect and misconduct, Buchanan wrote the heads of the U.S. House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees and asked for an investigation.

On Thursday, Buchanan sent the letter to U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., the chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, and U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., who leads Democrats on the committee. The Florida Republican also wrote U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., the chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, and U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn. the ranking Democrat on the committee.

“Some of the more disturbing reports detail incidents involving a veteran found covered in a ‘urine and feces-stained sheet,’ another in which a veteran’s leg had to be amputated after an infection went untreated for so long that ‘his toes turned black and attracted maggots,’ and one case in which a patient died while an aide who was supposed to check on him hourly failed to check on him at all and instead played video games on her computer,” Buchanan wrote.

“We need real accountability and transparency at the VA, and every agency employee needs to fulfill their mission of caring for those who have served our country. It’s a national disgrace that any veteran should die from negligence. Heads must roll at the VA for those responsible for gross misconduct and negligence,” Buchanan added. “That is why I am urging the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees to launch an immediate investigation into these disturbing new reports and adoption of tough disclosure requirements to create greater transparency. A congressional investigation should leave no stone unturned in finding out how this happened in the first place and how it can be prevented in the future.”

There are almost 50,000 veterans being cared for at nursing homes run by the VA. Three of the 60 VA nursing homes ranked with the lowest one star rating were in Florida with the Bay Pine, Lake City and Tampa facilities getting those marks.