Phoenix, AZ — Yesterday a federal judge awarded Army veteran Steven Cooper $2.5 million after the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) office in Phoenix was found responsible for malpractice surrounding his cancer diagnosis. Now terminally ill, Cooper testified that a VA nurse performed his exam in 2011 and, even after clear abnormalities, the nurse did not order a follow-up blood test. Nearly a year later, Cooper was diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Problems plagued the Phoenix VA long before the wait list scandal was revealed in 2014. Since then, despite tens of billions of dollars in additional funding for the VA, wait times for health care continue to go up at many VA hospitals and there are constant reports of tragic misconduct within the agency. Just last week the VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a report confirming VA employees are still manipulating wait times at facilities across the country.
Concerned Veterans for America Arizona State Director Matt Dobson issued the following statement:
“Like Steven Cooper, many of our nation’s heroes rely on VA practitioners for adequate health care. In many cases, a proper exam and a follow-up blood test is a matter of life or death. This lawsuit should be yet another wake-up call that VAs across the country need strong accountability reforms in order to undo the dysfunction that causes this poor performance. VA employees must be held accountable for their failure to do their jobs properly – the well-being of our veterans depends on it. “
CVA supports the Caring for Our Heroes in the 21st Century Act, draft legislation introduced by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) last year which would empower veterans to seek care inside or outside the VA at their own discretion. The group will also push Congress to re-authorize the current Choice Card program this August until more permanent reforms can take hold.
CVA also supports the 2017 VA Accountability First Act. If passed, the VA Accountability First Act of 2017 would make it easier to terminate bad employees at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and help bring a new culture of accountability to the broken department.