July 11, 2017
WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), released a statement following yesterday’s release of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Inspector General (IG) report on the results of an investigation of the Muskogee VA Health Care System. The VA IG conducted an investigation into the Muskogee system last year in conjunction with a third party, the Joint Commission. Inhofe held the VA IG’s nomination last year until the VA had committed to conduct investigations of Oklahoma’s VA hospitals in coordination with a third party.
Earlier this Congress Inhofe and U.S. Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) introduced S. 1266, the Enhancing Veterans Care Act, which authorizes VA’s Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) directors and medical center directors to contract with outside entities to conduct investigations of their VA facilities. Inhofe is testifying today on this legislation in front of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
“Our Oklahoma veterans have earned top-notch healthcare and it’s on us to ensure our vets have access to such care,” Inhofe said. “A December 2015 USA Today article demonstrated the severity of problems at our Muskogee VA facility, despite nine VA IG investigations into the facility during the six years prior. This appalling and unacceptable care led me to demand, among other things, this IG investigation. This report is a step in the right direction to identify and correct shortcomings in quality and access to care. While positive changes have already occurred as a result of this investigation, there is still much work to be done. This is why my legislation, S. 1266, the Enhancing Veterans Care Act, will continue to build on that success and give the VISN and medical center directors more authority to investigate and correct deficiencies across the VA health system. It is time for Oklahoma VA facilities to be held to the same standards as private hospitals and outside oversight is how we can achieve this.”
The Joint Commission will release their own report on the joint investigation into the Muskogee VA Health Care System. Both the VA IG and the Joint Commission will also release reports on the state of the Oklahoma City VA Health Care System, as requested by Inhofe.