U.S. President Barack Obama will meet with Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki on Wednesday at the White House for an update on the controversy involving delays in healthcare for military veterans.
The White House said the meeting would include top Obama aide Rob Nabors, who is scheduled to travel to Phoenix later on Wednesday to visit the medical facility at the center of allegations and meet with veterans and their representatives.
The meeting, scheduled for 10:00 a.m. EDT (1400 GMT) in the Oval Office, comes as the Obama administration struggles to contain a political storm over the delivery of health care to the nation’s former soldiers.
In the coming days, Obama is expected to speak out about the allegations that doctors at the facility in Phoenix were ordered to put veterans’ names on a secret waiting list for months, until a spot opened up on an official list, in a bid to make the waiting times appear shorter.
Three senior officials in Phoenix were put on administrative leave, and two top health officials at the Department of Veterans Affairs have resigned.
Some veterans’ groups and other critics are pressing for Shinseki to step down, but Obama has stood firmly behind him.
Similar allegations have been made other veterans’ medical facilities, and CNN reported on Tuesday that 26 were under investigation.
The Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives is preparing to start debate on a proposed bill that would make it easier for the department to fire or demote senior executives. A vote is expected this week.
The Veteran Affairs department oversees some 1,700 hospitals, clinics, nursing homes and other facilities, making it the nation’s largest healthcare organization.
(Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)