VA secretary needs to demonstrate progress soon

Six months. That is how long Congress should give Acting Veterans Affairs Secretary Sloan Gibson to make progress in providing better health care service for veterans. In the meantime, his request for an additional $17.6 billion should be tabled – mostly.

With other headlines claiming attention, some Americans may have forgotten about the VA’s unacceptable lapses -some intentional – in helping veterans. But hundreds of thousands of veterans who need medical care from the VA have not forgotten.

In all likelihood, they also have noticed a gigantic missing link in the VA’s proposals for reform.

Some VA managers placed veterans on months-long waiting lists for care, then lied about doing so. What is being done about them? And why should Congress hand them billions of dollars more?

Lawmakers should grant part of Sloan’s request, however. It is for money to pay private health care providers to give veterans the care the VA would not.

Then Congress should give Sloan six months to demonstrate improvement – including firing and possibly prosecuting VA managers who shortchanged veterans and lied about it. Only then should there be discussion of additional funding.