- Joshua Roberts/Reuters
The head of the Department of Veteran Affairs was heavily critic zed by Republicans after comparing wait lines veterans face for healthcare to lines at Disneyland.
Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald compared VA wait times to lines at Disneyland during a Monday breakfast with the Christian Science Monitor.
“When you go to Disney, do they measure the number of hours you wait in line? Or what’s important? What’s important is, what’s your satisfaction with the experience?” McDonald said during the breakfast. “And what I would like to move to, eventually, is that kind of measure.”
Republicans were quick to denounce McDonald for his statements. Arizona Sen. John McCain said Tuesday that McDonald’s statements reflected a “fundamental lack of understanding about the serious problems plaguing veterans’ healthcare.”
“Secretary McDonald’s comparison further erodes what little confidence the American people have left in the Department of Veterans Affairs and its commitment to our veterans,” McCain said.
McCain’s comments were echoed by Illinois Senator Mark Kirk, who said McDonald “should be embarrassed for making such a comparison.”
Kirk went on to say that veterans were consistently disappointed by the services that the VA provided and that McDonald should more thoroughly make amends for his statements.
“The secretary should apologize for his tone deaf comments and show more respect for the men and women he is supposed to be serving,” Kirk said.
Two of the Republican Party’s leaders also chimed in, noting how the issues affecting the VA were potentially life threatening and were nothing to be made light of. House Speaker Paul Ryan tweeted how the wait times at the VA have led to deaths.
This is not make-believe, Mr. Secretary. Veterans have died waiting in those lines. https://t.co/OxfT3AYzTi
— Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) May 23, 2016
And presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump used McDonald’s statements as a springboard to criticize Hillary Clinton while promising that he would “take care of our vets.”
Obama’s VA Secretary just said we shouldn’t measure
wait times. Hillary says VA problems are not ‘widespread.’ I will take care of
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 23, 2016
McDonald was appointed to head the Department of Veterans’ Affairs in July 2014, following a wait-list scandal that forced former Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign. Dozens of veterans are thought to have died at the Phoenix VA hospital system alone while waiting for care, from which the wait-list scandal first emerged.
A report from the Government Accountability Office last month found that the VA still lacks the ability to ensure that veterans receive care on time.