VA Chief Refuses to Apologize After Comparing Veteran Wait Times to Rides at Disney

Posted: May 24, 2016 10:40 AM

In case you missed it yesterday, Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald argued during a breakfast with reporters that Disney doesn't measure wait times, so why should his agency? 

"When you go to Disney, do they measure the number of hours you wait in line?" McDonald said.

First, Disney takes wait times very seriously and spends thousands of dollars each year improving and shortening wait times for customers. The company goes to great lengths to measure and keep track of wait times and has even developed an app that tells ride goers how long they'll wait at a particular place inside Disney theme parks. 

Second, despite heavy criticism and the fact more than 300,000 veterans (so far) have died waiting for care, McDonald is  refusing to apologize for making the flippant comparison and those who work for him are doing damage control.

We know that Veterans are still waiting too long for care. In our effort to determine how we can better meet Veterans' needs, knowing that their satisfaction is our most important measure, we have heard them tell us that wait times alone are not the only indication of their experience with VA and that's why we must transform the way we do business," the VA released in a statement yesterday. 

VA officials have been saying for years the Department and hospitals must be "transformed" to better serve veterans waiting for care. Regardless, nothing has changed. Despite additional funding, VA wait times have doubled since the VA scandal broke two years ago. The system is still steeped in problems, including suicide hotlines going unanswered. 

If McDonald can't apologize for making an irresponsible statement about wait times, how can we expect him to change the indifferent culture still plaguing VA hospitals around the country?