UPDATE: VA Secretary Shinseki resigns; politicians react - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

UPDATE: VA Secretary Shinseki resigns; politicians react

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) - Obama announced Friday morning that Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki will resign.

Shinseki was embroiled in controversy amid widespread allegations of treatment delays at VA hospitals nationwide.

In light of Shinseki's resignation, KWWL reached out to the Iowa City VA Health Care System for comments.

"This morning the President accepted Secretary Shinseki’s resignation and appointed the current VA Deputy Secretary, Mr. Sloan Gibson to serve as Acting Secretary," said spokesman Jon Pruett in a written statement Friday. "Today’s news does not change our focus on providing Veterans with timely access to quality care throughout Iowa City VA Health Care System.

"We have a hardworking, dedicated workforce who understands the full meaning and responsibility of providing the best care to our Veterans," he continued. "We are sensitive to the concerns or questions Veterans have during this time and wish to reiterate our commitment to maintaining the highest standards of personal, professional care. We look forward to working with Acting Secretary Gibson as VA carefully evaluates the areas of concern and strives to improve upon the delivery of care."

Politicians also chimed in on Shinseki's resignation Friday.

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley called for more resignations.

"When problems in a department are widespread, the top leadership bears ultimate responsibility for the management shortcomings that let it happen," Grassley said in a written statement Friday. "But this can’t be the end of the story. The problems will still be there after this resignation, and they need to be fixed.

"Everyone in the department who was responsible should go," he continued. "The Senate should take up the Department of Veterans Affairs Management Accountability Act that the House passed last week to help make that possible. That legislation makes it easier to fire senior Veterans Affairs employees over poor performance. I’m co-sponsoring the Senate companion bill.

"Too often, a resignation at the top becomes an excuse for a president to abandon reforms and escape accountability. This resignation doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t give President Obama a free pass to move on."

U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack released the following statement:

"As a military parent, I have been outraged by what has come to light at VA health centers across the nation," Loebsack said in a written statement Friday. "I appreciate Secretary Shinseki’s prior service to our nation, but believe that his resignation is the only way for the Agency to start fresh and ensure our veterans receive the timely access to health care they deserve.

"It is now time to move forward and focus on how we as a nation provide the best health care for those who defended our country. We must redouble our efforts to rectify this situation and provide the VA with the resources they need to prevent anything like this from happening in the future."

U.S. Rep. Tom Latham said the VA needs more than just Shinseki's resignation.

"Secretary Shinseki's resignation is a good first step in establishing accountability at the VA," Latham said in a written statement Friday. "However, his resignation is not the answer to the over-arching and far reaching systemic problems at the bureaucratic VA. There must be changes within the culture of the VA, significant changes that hold those accountable who do not put the veteran above their own person gain. I will not let the failure of the VA be forgotten and I will continue to push for real change at the VA."

U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, who is running for U.S. Senate, said he was pleased with the resignation but respected Shinseki's service.

"Despite the recent and ongoing issues at the VA that led to today’s resignation, Secretary Shinseki’s service to our country deserves our sincerest respect and gratitude," Braley said in a written statement Friday. "While I agree with today’s decision, this in no way diminishes our responsibility to fully investigate recent allegations of misconduct, punish those involved -- and most importantly -- to work together to solve these problems in service to America’s veterans. We all owe that to the generations of America’s veterans who continue to rely on the VA for quality care."

U.S. Rep. Steve King compared the mismanagement to the Affordable Care Act.

"General Shinseki has lost the confidence of our veterans," King said in a written statement Friday. "I thank him for serving our country. His replacement will need the maximum authority to reform this government run Healthcare system.

"I have long supported giving our veterans a healthcare credit card they can use anywhere," King added. "This will inject competition into the VA. We have thousands of excellent and dedicated healthcare workers in the VA. We also have a preview of what a microcosm of ObamaCare looks like. If government can’t fix the VA for our veterans, how can government manage healthcare for all Americans?"

U.S. Senate candidate Joni Ernst also released a statement:

"After weeks of unnecessary delay we will have much needed new leadership at the VA," Ernst said in a written release Friday. "Now comes the most difficult and important part -- making real, meaningful systematic changes that result in a VA that provides our brave men and women who have served our nation so bravely -- some whom I served with, and their families, with the absolute best care possible."

Eastern Iowa has several VA-affiliated health centers. There is a Vet Center in Cedar Rapids, a VA Health Care System in Iowa City, an Outpatient Clinic in Coralville and Community Based Outpatient Clinics in Cedar Rapids, Decorah, Dubuque, Ft. Dodge, Marshalltown, Mason City, Ottumwa and Waterloo.

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PREVIOUS STORY:

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki announces he's ousting leadership of Phoenix VA hospital.

The announcement comes just ahead of a meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House Friday morning.

The meeting comes amid mounting calls for the embattled Shinseki to resign. There are widespread allegations of treatment delays at VA hospitals around the country. Shinseki is expected to give the president an update on a review he has been conducting.

Obama says in a television interviews aired Thursday that he plans to have a "serious conversation" with Shinseki about whether he is prepared to fix the problems.

Amie Steffeneicher and The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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