VA Officials Suspended for Fake Waitlist Scandal to Return to Work

Phoenix VA Health Care Center
The Phoenix VA Health Care Center / AP

Two top administrators at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs health system in Phoenix, Arizona, who were suspended following revelations of fake waitlists and delayed patient care will return to agency jobs Monday.

The Arizona Republic reported:

Lance Robinson, associate director of the Phoenix VA Health Care System, will be assigned as a planner at the VA’s southwest regional office in Gilbert, known as VISN 18, according to spokeswoman Jean Schaefer. Brad Curry, the system’s chief of Health Administration Services, will serve as a data analyst. The two men have been focal points in a controversy over the VA’s perceived failure to hold leaders accountable for mismanagement and misconduct that caused a breakdown in care for veterans in Arizona and nationwide.

Robinson and Curry were placed on paid leave and given termination notices in May 2014. During their suspensions, they have been given hundreds of thousands of dollars in pay and benefits.

Both administrators were the subject of VA inquiries and hearings, which have been subject to delays and yielded contradictory findings.

An internal probe reported by the Washington Post concluded that Robinson retaliated against a whistleblower who reported mismanagement and poor care at the Phoenix hospital.

Thousands of veterans were placed on fake waitlists at VA hospitals in recent years. Dozens of veterans died while waiting for care at the Phoenix hospital.

A veterans group described the latest development as further evidence that the VA under Secretary Robert McDonald is not serious about holding employees accountable for misconduct.

"By allowing Robinson and Curry to return to work despite their intimate involvement in the waitlist scandal that likely cost dozens of veterans their lives–and Robinson’s documented retaliation against whistleblowers–VA leaders are letting the American people know that their priority is protecting corrupt government bureaucrats instead of seeking to better serve our veterans," Concerned Veterans for America legislative and political director Dan Caldwell said in a statement Friday.

"If Secretary McDonald and the top leadership at the VA do not have the courage, or competence, to properly fire employees like Curry and Robinson who engage in misconduct that puts lives at risk, then they have no business managing an agency that millions of veterans rely on for their critical health care needs. The stakes for our veterans are simply too high."