Top VA Health Official Resigns Amid Scandal

Robert Petzel quits, though he was scheduled to leave this year anyway
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 16, 2014 3:50 PM CDT
Veterans Affairs Undersecretary Robert Petzel testifies on Capitol Hill Thursday.   (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
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(Newser) – The budding scandal at Veterans Affairs over the medical care that vets receive seems to have resulted in its first resignation. Robert Petzel, who was the department's top official in charge of health care, submitted his resignation to VA chief Eric Shinseki, reports Reuters. Shinseki not only accepted it, he had requested it, reports AP. The move comes a day after both men were grilled by a Senate panel over reports about delays and cover-ups of those delays at VA facilities, including the big one that 40 vets died while awaiting care in Phoenix.

"As we know from the veteran community, most veterans are satisfied with the quality of their VA health care, but we must do more to improve timely access to that care," Shinseki said in a statement acknowledging the resignation. But critics are already pointing out that Petzel was scheduled to step down this year anyway. Republican Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas, for example, accused the VA of exercising "damage control." The House, meanwhile, has scheduled a vote for next week that would give Shinseki more authority to fire VA administrators.

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