WASHINGTON (AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign said Monday she is "outraged" by chronic delays for veterans seeking medical care or struggling to have their disability claims processed. But Clinton opposes privatizing the system and intends to lay out a plan next month to make further changes.
Republicans questioned the Democratic presidential candidate's commitment to veterans after she said in an MSNBC interview on Friday that the scandal involving veterans health care had not been "as widespread as it has been made out to be" and Republicans had politicized the agency.
That drew a sharp rebuke from Republicans, including Arizona Sen. John McCain, who said Monday that Clinton should apologize for her comments. The 2008 GOP presidential nominee said it showed a "total lack of appreciation" of the crisis facing veterans' health care.
Clinton's campaign said Monday she was "outraged by the problems exposed at the Veterans Health Administration, which a government audit found to be 'systemic.' Even now, too many of our veterans are still waiting an unacceptably long time to see a doctor, or to process disability claims and appeals."
The campaign said Clinton will outline plans in November to make further changes at the VA to "make sure it truly works for our veterans." But they said despite the problems, the VA provides "unique and critical services and innovative care" to veterans and "she does not believe that privatization will solve the problems that the VA is facing."
Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon said she "thinks the scandals at the VA were an outrage and of course she thinks more reforms are needed. She has said those things, and to suggest otherwise is just not accurate."
Phoenix was the epicenter of the wait-time scandal that led to the resignation of former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki and a new law overhauling the agency and authorizing billions in new spending.