The Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care System (PVAHCS) is failing to process requests form congressional offices, according to a letter sent from Representative Andy Biggs (R-AZ5) sent a letter to Veterans’ Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie.

The letter, reproduced below, excoriates the PVAHCS for their failure to process constituent service requests from congressional offices.

“After the PVAHCS admitted its failure in handling congressional inquiries, its leadership promised to send a casework report to my office within 24 hours,” Biggs wrote. “This casework report, which we have requested for months, is vital to ensure that no case goes unresolved.”

Biggs asks Wilkie to “look into issues plaguing the PVAHCS as soon as possible.”

In January, Biggs introduced HR 80, the Phoenix VA Congressional Oversight Act. The bill was cosponsored by the entire Arizona Congressional delegation.

The Phoenix VA Congressional Oversight Act would create a pilot program at the PVAHCS to “improve the ability of Members of Congress to assist constituents” by establishing a “congressional relations team” to work with Members’ offices on behalf of constituents and to allow the member of congress to use a space at PVAHCS to meet with constituents. 

The following is the text of the letter from Rep. Biggs to Secretary Wilkie:

March 28, 2019

The Honorable Robert Wilkie
Secretary
Department of Veterans Affairs
810 Vermont Avenue, NW

Washington, D.C. 20420

Dear Secretary Wilkie,

First, I want to extend my gratitude for your efforts in bringing much-needed reforms to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).  I remain committed to the Trump Administration’s mission to provide exceptional care and service to America’s veterans.  

I am encouraged by the significant progress that has been made at the VA under this administration; however, I am concerned about the continued bureaucratic hurdles that my office faces at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care System (PVAHCS).  

My priority is to ensure that my constituents receive the quality care they earned in a timely fashion.  Two weeks ago, my staff met with PVAHCS Medical Center Director RimaAnn Nelson to discuss solutions to the broken health care process that many veterans experience.  My office works hard to advocate for veterans and we submit congressional inquiries on their behalf to the PVAHCS to get results for them.

In this recent meeting, PVAHCS leadership admitted that their current process for handling congressional inquiries is failing.  We received little action on our ideas to serve our veterans better, such as having a dedicated congressional liaison as other VA medical health care centers already provide, including the Southern Arizona VA Health Care System.  Instead, the PVAHCS has chosen to repeat processes that ultimately do one thing: fail our Nation’s veterans.

After the PVAHCS admitted its failure in handling congressional inquiries, its leadership promised to send a casework report to my office within 24 hours.  This casework report, which we have requested for months, is vital to ensure that no case goes unresolved.

In keeping with its track record of broken promises, the PVAHCS did not send that report within 24 hours.  In fact, we have yet to receive it.  My office does not experience this type of bureaucratic mismanagement with other federal agencies. 

My constituents should not have to come to their elected representative in order to get prompt, appropriate medical care.  The VA is responsible for doing things right the first time.  There is no room for error when it comes to health care.  

I respectfully request that you look into issues plaguing the PVAHCS as soon as possible.  I look forward to continue working with you on our shared fight to ensure that no veteran is left behind.  

Sincerely, 

Andy Biggs
Member of Congress