By RONNIE ELLIS \ CNHI News Service
FRANKFORT — U.S. Sen. Rand Paul said Friday he hopes the resignation of Veterans’ Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki leads to improvements in medical care for the country’s wounded and ill veterans.
Shinseki, a disabled combat veteran himself, resigned Friday in the wake of the growing scandal after reports that some VA hospitals deliberately falsified wait lists of those waiting for care.
Most political leaders in Congress, from both parties, had called for Shinseki to resign and he did Friday after a meeting at the White House.
Paul said the problem in the VA hospitals didn’t occur overnight and he offered what he called “a relatively simple fix for the problem.” He said veterans who are placed on a wait list at VA hospitals should be given vouchers which they can use to seek treatment from private doctors.
Paul, who spoke to reporters before addressing the Franklin Republican Women’s Club, said he’s also sent a letter to the acting VA Director Sloan Gibson asking if such waiting times as have been reported in Phoenix and in other locations also occurred in Kentucky.
“We know that the problems at the Department of Veteran Affairs are deeper than any one resignation or firing can fix,” Paul said. “This is a systemic failure and Kentuckians deserve to know the full extent of the abuses.”
Other members of Kentucky’s congressional delegation, including Sen. Mitch McConnell, Rep. John Yarmuth, and Rep. Brett Guthrie saluted Shinseki’s service to the country but agreed the resignation provided an opportunity to review and repair the problems at the VA.
Paul said part of the program is tied to “government medicine.” Paul has been a critic of the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare as some call it.
He went on to say the VA is a single-pay system like that which some Democrats and others sought for everyone when the ACA was enacted. Paul, an ophthalmologist, said private health care is preferable to government provide medicine.
Paul also said he’s made no decision yet on whether to run for president in 2016 nor has he decided to challenge in court a Kentucky law which prohibits him from running for re-election to the Senate and for president at the same time.
Republicans control the state Senate and have hopes of taking over the state House this fall. If that were to occur, Paul’s party would almost surely change the law to allow him to run for both at the same time.
On Thursday, Paul appeared in Owensboro to endorse several Republican candidates for the state House, including Jeff Jobe of Glasgow, who is challenging incumbent Democrat Johnny Bell, also of Glasgow.
Paul reiterated Friday that he’s endorsing Jobe.
RONNIE ELLIS writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at email@example.com. Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cnhifrankfort