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Angling For Military Vote, Rick Scott Looks to Sue Feds for Blocking VA Hospital Inspections

| May 28, 2014

Gov. Rick Scott wants to sue for state inspectors' access to Veterans Administration hospital s like James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital in Tampa. (Facebook)

Gov. Rick Scott wants to sue for state inspectors’ access to Veterans Administration hospital s like
James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital in Tampa. (Facebook)

Gov. Rick Scott, who has increased efforts to appeal to military voters as he seeks re-election, wants to sue the federal government for blocking state inspectors from Veterans Administration hospitals.

The state Agency for Health Care Administration, at Scott’s urging, said Wednesday it will file a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs seeking to allow state inspectors access to Florida-based VA hospitals so they can determine if the health care needs of veterans are being met.

While no legal action has been taken, AHCA spokeswoman Shelisha Coleman said in an email that “the agency will take the necessary actions to hold the VA accountable.”

Mary Kay Hollingsworth, a spokeswoman for the federal agency, said it would be “inappropriate for us to speculate” on the specifics of Florida’s litigation until it is filed.

State inspectors have been trying for more than a month to gain access to the federal facilities to conduct a review of allegations of inappropriate scheduling and treatment that have been reported at VA facilities nationwide.

The governor’s request follows his call May 21 for Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign as investigations are ongoing into the treatment of veterans, and the potential cover-up of delayed care, at 26 health clinics nationwide, including the Malcom Randall VA Medical Center in Gainesville.

“To date, Secretary Shinseki has refused to step down, our inspectors continue to be turned away, and none of the information we’ve asked for has been provided,” Scott said in a prepared statement Wednesday. “Transparency and accountability are critical to supporting our veterans, and this suit will fight the federal VA’s continued practice of stonewalling our inspectors.”

Calls for Shinseki to resign were heightened Wednesday after the federal agency’s Office of Inspector General released a preliminary report indicating that delayed medical care, along with efforts to hide records, was “systemic” throughout the veterans’ health system.

According to AHCA, state staff members were denied access to Malcom Randall on May 19. Also, between April 3 and April 14 they were blocked from access to medical clinics in Gainesville, Lake City, Miami, Tampa, St. Petersburg and West Palm Beach.

A spokesman for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist said Scott has failed to help an estimated 41,000 veterans in Florida by declining to expand access to health care through the federal Affordable Care Act.

“It’s unfortunate that Rick Scott may be attempting to inject politics (through calling for a lawsuit against the VA) into a tragic situation,” Crist spokesman Kevin Cate said Wednesday.

Crist accused Scott of using the VA issue as a “political tool” last week.

The Republican Party of Florida has responded that Crist is the one “exploiting” the issue, noting that the former governor included a link to his political campaign and a fundraising page when tweeting his own message that Shinseki should resign.

The state currently is home to 1.5 million veterans, with nearly a third from the Vietnam era and 231,000 having served in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, according to the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Scott, who served in the Navy, turned his attention to the veterans’ hospital issue on April 1, a day after signing the “Florida GI Bill,” a wide-ranging measure modeled after the federal World War II-era program.

–Jim Turner, News Service of Florida

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9 Responses for “Angling For Military Vote, Rick Scott Looks to Sue Feds for Blocking VA Hospital Inspections”

  1. Genie says:

    The VA needs to be sued if they are blocking state inspections of these facilities. Call it whatever you like, it’s the only way they are ever going to be exposed. These people deserve the same healthcare everybody else has.

    Want to see this get fixed fast? Put Congress under the care of the VA and give the vets Congressional healthcare.

  2. A.S.F. says:

    I think Governor Scott’s previous record in regards to his own conduct while in the healthcare field, overseeing things, speaks for itself. He is shameless; a political scumbag dressed in sheep’s clothing, freshly sheared for the sake of re-election.

  3. A.S.F. says:

    But, you know…maybe some people could take a page out of Gov’s book and sue HIM for blocking the expansion of Medicaid funds into Florida, seeing’ as it may constitute a serious ongoing threat to the health and well-being of a hell of a lot of people here. He should be held accountable for that.

  4. Anonymous says:

    gov scott don,t care about veteran he stop the money that was given from Washington 3years ago to florida he is a fake

  5. Well now. says:

    Wow. We use and exploit our military for any and all purposes don’t we. Except when they need it. Here’s a thought, get rid of the VA “clinics” and let our veterans go to doctors near them and not force them to travel the length of the state for treatment. Then this problem would not even exist. Uh-oh, then we could use those monies paying for these “clinics” on better care for our veterans, who have vowed their lives to care and protect us!

  6. A.S.F. says:

    @Well, now says–That sounds good on the surface but it won’t work so well in real life. For one thing, private care is even more expensive than in-house VA care. For another thing, Veterans with combat-related injuries often prefer to get treated at the VA because they feel accepted and understood in that particular environment–especially if they are receiving peer-based counseling services. And many of the needs of our newly returning Veterans have critical needs that are hard to meet in most community based “clinics”, such as rehab services for multiple amputees, specialized ongoing treatment and re-education for those with Traumatic Brain Injuries and mutli-modality PTSD therapy.

  7. Lynnette Perry says:

    Scott is a republican. The republicans in the senate are in charge of saving cash at the expense of the inspection of these facilities. Scott is not going to sue any person that is Republican while running for Governor for another term. It would be very unwise to believe this. He is saying he will, but it isn’t going to happen…

  8. confidential says:

    Look who is suing now!! The biggest fraudster that stole from Medicare while at the head of Columbia HCA.

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