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Newspaper’s VA investigation makes national news

Report found claims settled for $36M.

A Dayton Daily News investigation of the Veterans Administration paying out millions of dollars to settle death claims related to delays in treatment made national news Sunday.

Host Bob Schieffer displayed a copy of the newspaper’s Sunday front page during the Face the Nation show, and reporter Josh Sweigart was interviewed by CBS News and MSNBC.

“The scandal at the Veterans Administration hospitals may be even worse than we thought. The VA admits that 23 patients died at VA hospitals because of delayed treatment. But this morning the Dayton Daily News reports that since 2001, the agency has paid out $36.4 million to settle claims of ‘delay in treatment.’ The money was paid out either voluntarily or as part of a court action,” Schieffer said during the show.

Sweigart later was interviewed for appearances scheduled to air at 6:30 p.m. Sunday and 7 a.m. Monday on CBS News. The story also appeared in different forms in a variety of online publications around the country.

The newspaper analyzed data and found it was unclear how many of the cases match the VA’s definition of delayed care. But there are numerous examples, including in Dayton, where claimants allege substandard care related to lags in treatment.

The Dayton VA in 2009 paid out $140,000 for a 2006 claim that was described as “Failure/ Delay in Admission to Hospital or Institution; Medication Administered via Wrong Route; Failure to Order Appropriate Test.”

A pending $3.5 million claim from March 2013 was filed by a man who says delayed treatment of his wife’s cervical cancer resulted in her death in March 2012. The names of the veteran and her widower were redacted.

The VA has admitted that 23 people nationwide have died because of delayed care, and it is facing accusations that hospital administrators are gaming the system to conceal wait times, including using a “secret list” at the VA in Phoenix. Robert Petzel, undersecretary for health care at the VA, resigned Friday, the day after he and agency head Eric Shinseki were grilled by the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs. Many have called for Shinseki’s resignation, as well.

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