The first time President Barack Obama heard about allegations of phony waiting lists that hid long — and allegedly deadly — lapses of care for ailing veterans was from an April 23 CNN report, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Monday.
“If you mean the specific allegations that I think were first reported by your network out of Phoenix, I believe, we learned about them through the reports,” Carney said, according to CNN.
Carney said that although the president wasn’t aware of the fake patient lists at the Phoenix, Ariz., Department of Veterans Affairs facility, he’d known of the VA’s general problem with long wait times and inadequate care for several years.
The Washington Times reported Monday that internal memos show the Obama-Biden transition team was told in late 2008 of the problems with care at the Arizona facility.
Carney dug in, however, insisting that “then-candidate Obama [in 2008] identified problems with the VA and committed himself, if being elected, to making sure we enhance the budgets we provide to the Veterans Affairs Department so we can better serve our veterans.
“We asked for and received from Congress significant increases in the VA budget . . . You have more veterans being served,” he said.
The White House spokesman said Obama is standing by embattled VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, saying also: “Accountable individuals must be held to account.”