Yesterday, Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM-01) and the other four members of New Mexico’s congressional delegation sent a letter to the acting director of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to express their serious concerns about the New Mexico VA’s handling of the recent tragic death of a veteran at its Medical Center in Albuquerque, as well as its lack of transparency in response to requests for information from the public and their offices.
In the letter, the lawmakers said the lack of transparency is not only eroding the public’s faith in the VA, it is inhibiting their ability to conduct congressional oversight over the VA in New Mexico. They asked for several pieces of information to be made public, including a copy of the VA Hospital emergency policy and staff training materials.
“We have frequently asked the VA Hospital to provide us with its written policies and practices related to scheduling, patient wait time, bonus and performance award system, and general management issues including how schedulers are trained,” the letter reads. “However, VA Hospital staff has repeatedly denied this information to us and most recently told our offices that we must file Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for all written VA Hospital documentation. Such responses tremendously impede our constitutional responsibility to oversee the faithful execution of the laws we pass.”
“At a time when the VA as a whole is under serious scrutiny, it is imperative that the VA Hospital is as transparent as possible about its policies and procedures. This information would serve an important congressional purpose to provide oversight of a VA hospital whose mismanagement practices have been identified by the VA Office of Inspector General and the Senate Appropriations Committee,” the letter continues. “We all share the same goal of ensuring that our veterans receive the quality, timely care that they have earned. Our requests for pertinent written VA Hospital policies are part of that shared obligation and transparency—not secrecy—will help restore the public’s confidence in the VA’s ability to care for our nation’s veterans.”
The full text of the letter is HERE