Wrap Up: Ron’s hearing gets to the bottom of Tomah VA tragedies


Wrap Up: Ron worked to get to the bottom of the Tomah VA tragedies in order to ensure that the finest among us are getting the care they deserve. Read about it below:

From Fox 11:

A 359-page report on a 16-month-long investigation into painkiller abuse at the Tomah Veterans Affairs Medical Center lays heavy blame on the VA office that is supposed to act as a watchdog.

Republican Sen. Ron Johnson released the report Tuesday morning in conjunction with a congressional committee field hearing in Tomah. Johnson is chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

Sen. Johnson says he has now been a watchdog of the watchdog.

“The office of inspector general was loyal to the agency, the Veterans Administration, when the office of inspector general should have been loyal to our veterans and to the American public,” said Johnson.

From Fox 6:

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson released a 357-page report Tuesday, May 31st detailing what he calls “systemic failures and preventable tragedies” at the Tomah Veterans Affairs Medical Center, once known as “Candyland.”

At a congressional hearing in Tomah, top VA officials took responsible for failing to stop a painkiller-abuse scandal at the facility. Johnson blamed the VA’s inspector general and said the office had “basically lost its sense of purpose” and “covered up” inspection reports into a painkiller-abuse scandal.

“The new inspector general has to clean house,” Johnson said, without naming who should be fired.

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

“More than anything else this is a leadership failure,” Sloan Gibson, VA deputy secretary, told a U.S. Senate field hearing.

“There’s lots of finger pointing,” Gibson said. “At the end of the day, we own this. We’ve had ample opportunity over a period of years to fix this. That’s leadership’s responsibility. We failed to get it done.”

Gibson’s testimony came after a committee headed by U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson released a Republican majority report that found “systemic failures” involving VA watchdogs who conducted a multiyear investigation of the facility.

“Allegations of drug diversion, opioid over-prescription, retaliation and mismanagement festered,” said the report from the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs. “As a result, veterans died.”

A “culture of fear” permeated the facility, the report said. Tomah VA officials at the center of the problem have been fired, including former director Mario DeSanctis and chief of staff David Houlihan, dubbed by some the “candy man” for freely dispensing prescriptions.

The 359-page document zeroed in on previous investigations and uncovered new details involving overprescription of medications at the facility, which became known as “Candy Land.”

“We’ve held people accountable, which is somewhat unusual in the federal government,” Johnson, a Republican from Oshkosh, said in remarks to the news media at Cranberry Country Lodge, site of the hearing.

“It’s my responsibility to be the watchdog of the watchdog,” Johnson added.

Johnson said the VA’s Office of Inspector General was “loyal to the agency” instead of the veterans who were under care. He said the office needs to clean house, but he lauded the newly installed inspector general, Michael Missal, who testified at the hearing.