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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  May 28, 2014 7:30pm-8:01pm EDT

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the scope of the may subpoena was very narrow and was sufficiently to it -- sufficiently tailored to provide reasonable time to produce the documents. this subpoena simply demanded production by may 1910 volume else and written correspondence sent and received by certain va officials between the ninth of april and eight of may regarding the destruction or disappearance of alternate or antrum waitlists that the phoenix va medical center. my staff was told that the committee would only be receiving a partial response on the original due date and that va would produce additional documents, rolling basis over an indefinite and undefined amount of time thereafter. if this committee were to acquiesce to the va deal of rewriting of the subpoenas terms it would perpetuate va belief that selective compliance with
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committee requests is acceptable and would allow va to continue its pursuit mission to prevent this committee from doing its job. last night we received from va what day purport to be the last of the three sets of documents that they are going to produce for this committee. the va is claimed that they searched 27 different record custodians and have produced over 5500 pages of documents. at this point given year pattern of strong mauling and of all convinced that they have conducted a thorough and comprehensive search for responsive records. i know that va is withholding documents relating to at least three relevant communications by claiming attorney-client privilege. however, va failed to produce superb was long demanded by the
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subpoena or provide any explanation whatsoever which is necessary for us to consider whether we will accept the assertion of the privilege. a complete explanation of the and charmless document destruction and phoenix and four is general failure to explain to ongoing requests related to delays in care. last week i invited them to explain the incomplete record production to the committee. that did not come. dr. lance was in phoenix. on may 22nd we prepared three additional subpoenas to compel them to appear before a semisweet if they decide to the kleiner invitation. we expect va to be forthcoming
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but unfortunately it takes repeated requests and threats and compulsion to get va to bring their people year. i look forward to hearing what they have the sec. i recognize the ranking member for any statement he would like to make. >> thank you very much. tonight we, again, find ourselves in a difficult position. i do appreciate the witnesses appearing before us. for the additional production push of materials that came overnight. unfortunately, as you heard from the chairman those materials and the release of the interim ig report today did not provide the end as we saw but rather just raised additional questions. i share your frustration and i
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share your passion for getting to the bottom of this issue. we have been bipartisan on some in the things kind i am hopeful that we can continue that even as the situation gets increasingly difficult and emotionally charged. i am not completely satisfied with their response to our inquiries and the compliance with the subpoena. however i do feel over the past two days a has been a shift toward increasing responsiveness and offers to try to work harder dissatisfied car requirement and nike take away from me tonight, hearing the va response to our request for aberration. what the reasoning yesterday for failing to do so in a timely manner. let me be clear, i am not happy. i am not wholly satisfied with the va responses that we are
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seeing today. we do expect answers. we will get to the bottom of this to uncover the truth and insure a solution is implemented we expect accountability for a refill your that has on the veteran and for every individual who has perpetrated such armor was strongly urge the ig to diligently but swiftly provide a comprehensive battle report so that we can take action and told people accountable. we all share the same goals of ensuring that the veterans receive the highest quality care and treatment possible that they deserve nothing less. we rise above politics and emotion. pragmatically react to achieve the best outcomes are veterans.
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we must take our responsibilities seriously. and will yield results. we look forward to the opportunity to get some substantive answers from the va this evening. mr. chairman, i yield back. >> thank you very much. prior to beginning are questions this evening and would like to ask unanimous consent that the ranking member and myself be allowed to have 15 minutes each for questioning followed by five months from members and if necessary we will have a second round of questioning as well. hearing no objections, so ordered. dr. lynch, mesmer me, mr. hough, thank you for attending. if you would, please stand and raise your right hand.
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the psalm is where under penalty of perjury that the testimony you are about to provide is the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you out? thank you. please be seated. dr. lunch, just today the va office of inspector general issued an interim report identifying multiple lists other than the electronic waiting list and multiple types of scheduling practices that are not in compliance with vh a policy. and you went to phoenix after the hearing in this committee on april 9th did you identify the same issues turn your review or did you just merely take the word of those in charge? if you could turn the mike on
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please. >> mr. chairman, i have made three visits to finish debate to beat the first visit, the visit after which i reviewed my findings with your committee staffers was an initial visit. we had little information to go on at the time. we did that in the fire and i did share with your committee staffers the week though we have identified an intermediate work product which was used to identify veteran opponents to a been canceled for the purpose of rescheduling those veterans. i also indicated at that time that it was my impression that a document had been appropriately destroyed. i also made clear that this was
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an injured a process that we are going to continue our review. i returned about a week and athletic with two additional staff by scheduling expert, and an individual whose expertise and system reassignments schedule. we spent a week at the phoenix va understanding the process of scheduling. i will be happy to our wind up process for you beginning in november of 2000 to reschedule more than three months in the future they identified more appropriate slots to see these individuals center. >> i apologize, but we're not trying to be able to have long winded comments.
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you said you told the staff that it was your impression that the list was destroyed. is that what you're saying today? >> that is what i'm saying. you were in the room with the time. >> was. >> to mr. lynch said it was his impression that the list was destroyed? you are on growth. >> i believe that is what he said. >> you believe for you know. >> i believe that is what he said from my memory. >> you did not take any notes? you were in the room and took no notes? >> i took notes. i don't have those in front of me today. >> let me ask your question. if you took notes at that meeting, why haven't those notes been provided to this committee as part of a subpoena for all records talking about the destruction of the list, including notes, phone calls, e-mails to letters, memos?
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>> said turnover all my documents of the office of general counsel. >> does anybody at the table know why those notes have not been delivered? >> because this is a legal issue via office of general counsel has the lead for the apartment. my understanding is that upon receipt of the subpoena on may may 8th they began -- the office of general counsel began responding to this subpoena and dedicating a significant amount of our employes and resources to that effort for 27. excuse me. let me interrupt you. that means any written record rorer been crafted matter of any nature car was of a recorded
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whether classified or unclassified original or copy including but not limited to the following memorandum, instruction, working papers or records, notes, letters, notices, confirmation, telegram, and other words are written. why have we now receive all the documents requested in the subpoena, even though we got a letter from the general counsel lloyd lost my offensive that kayfor was done. >> i understand the general counsel of solo small number documents for attorney-client privilege. banning kerry vacation with your staff and ongoing discussions related to those documents of. >> other records part of the protected knows that the general counsel was climb the attorney-client privilege about? >> mr. chairman, i would defer to the office of general counsel for that.
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>> so the question, again, is has va complied with the terms of the subpoena? >> it is live understanding the va is provided the committee with relatives information in response to the subpoena. >> can you say anything without reading a prepared notes? >> sir, this is within the office of general counsel. general counsel would be the appropriate party test. >> and we did ask the office of general counsel to come brief members last week, and the general counsel declined. he said he declined because it did not want to brief the members. he wanted to brief the staff. there is not a single person sitting appear in this room that is a staff that voted for the subpoena. the members did. until va understands that we are deadly serious, you can expect us to be over your shoulder every single day.
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and while i have your attention, can you please explain to me why we, in fact, have 110 outstanding requests for information, some dealing with this issue specifically. and if you want a specific one, why have you not told this committee yet who was disciplined in a gusty, georgia and columbia, south carolina where nine veterans died because they will on the waiting list for colonoscopy is? >> as you know, mr. chairman, in the last five years the office of congressional legislative -- >> that does -- >> has responded to over 100,000 -- [inaudible conversations] >> veterans died. give us the answer please. >> i understand that, mr. chairman, and by will look -- >> that is what you said three
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months ago. this is been going on since january, since january. so in case you don't know it, we put on our website every week what we ask for, and nothing changes from week to week. we have an oversight responsibility in this congress, and we cannot do our job appropriately if you don't provide us the information that we request dr. lynch, given the fact that you declared the issue of misunderstanding in the first brief as staff has related to me and the office of inspector general report issued today substantiated inappropriate scheduling and said it was systemic throughout, do you believe that you have the credibility now necessary to
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identify and fix the problems? >> mr. chairman, believe i used the term misunderstanding with respect to the references that were being made to a secret list i did not make any qualifications of statements as to whether about the actions occurring in phoenix were appropriate. >> is your contention that there still was the secret list? >> it is my contention that there were a number of documents, three of which were identified by the ig today, one of which we identified earlier, that were working documents used to provide informations about patients for addition to the wedding list a rescheduling of patience. that did not think there were secret. i think they could easily have been misunderstood as being secret. >> i would remind the committee that we discussed this last week as well.
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dr. lynch came back from phoenix and asked to brief the four corners of which in just a matter of hours we were able to have the four corners come together of the staff. and then that you said -- and i would like to know what gave you the impression that the listed been destroyed? >> it had been conveyed to me second-hand by one of the members to have been with the summer first visit that the center was using a document to record the names of veterans who have been canceled, as a plebiscite been cancelled so that they could be rescheduled after the patients and veterans had been rescheduled the list was no longer required, and it was destroyed. it did contain patient identifiable information. >> okay. staffas telling me that it was described to them as a transitional documents as people were transitioning from paper
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over to the electronic wedding list. i guess my question is, was the list destroyed before or after this committee request to the preservation order for all documents? >> mr. chairman, it was my impression of those lists were destroyed before your preservation order. i was trying to explain before you asked me to be brief, that this was occurring be tracked over in november of 2012 and mid 2013. at the time of my first visit we thought that the transfer was occurring to the electronic waitlist. we learned during the course of the second visit that the transfer and the use of this document was occurring during the course of rescheduling patients because they were trying to provide care more promptly and because they were trying to consolidate clinic profiles to make the clinic management more efficient.
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process patient appointments being processed. the vista of scheduling system that va uses automatically generates a list of patients were canceled so that the list can be used to reschedule patients. once the rescheduling has occurred the list is no longer necessary. so is appropriately destroyed as it does contain patient identifiable of formation. it was my and standing, mr. chairman, that this did occur through late 2012 desmid 2013. >> why didn't we know that when we first asked about it? >> because i had only come back from the first visit. it was not until we took back a team and spent a week there looking through the entire process that we understood exactly what had been going on. >> i have written letter asking for that specific information. has it been responded to?
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it was never responded to, hence the subpoena. again, we are trying to get answers. no one is giving them to los. that is why we're here tonight. before my time runs out, let me -- according to an internal va the no an employee in los angeles reported up the chain of command that wait times in the los angeles va medical center were, in fact, been manipulated. the employee was simply a disgruntled employee. in a related e-mail a senior official substantiated, there appears to be inappropriate actions by the supervisor and los angeles. would you comment for the committee's behalf what is going on in los angeles? >> mr. chairman, the only concerns i am more of related to
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greater los angeles were concerns expressed by an employee regarding the cancellation of radiology orders which were felt to beast tale called, and no longer poor. it is my understanding based on discussions with the chief of staff as well as the chief of radiology that this was done after a careful review of those orders and that physicians were notified of the time of cancellation in case they needed a reschedule of a plan and your request. >> every single veteran was contacted to have one of their orders cancelled? >> that is what i was told, mr. chairman. >> well, let me give you a little hand. va will tell you the truth. so if you are relying solely on the management of these facilities to tell you the truth , you're not going to get it. you're just not going to get it.
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the complaint, by the way, before my time runs out quickly, is not in radiology. it is exactly what we're seeing all over the country. so i would suspect that you better have somebody go to los angeles quickly before they start destroying secret lists. >> mr. chairman, i share the documentation with me and i will be happy to follow up. i think you know my commitment to veterans and understand the problems with our va health care system. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman.
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dr. lynch, on what date did you first become aware that there were allegations of problems in phoenix? >> april 9th 2014. >> on what date did you travel to phoenix to investigate? >> i made the first visit to phoenix on april 17th. it was a thursday before easter. i was there through easter until tuesday of the following week. >> was that -- was the day your returned? >> i believe it was on april april 23rd. i believe i came down to discuss the initial findings of the committee staff. >> under whose direction is to define a phoenix? >> dr. robert pets the last me go to phoenix.
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>> and he did you travel to phoenix with? >> myself, my wife joined me for the weekend. >> can you please explain your role in the initial investigation and phoenix as well as a role of the individuals that you're with? >> my initial role in phoenix was to try to get an understanding of what had happened to get a sense for how the congressional delegations as well as the veteran service organizations were viewing the allegations. i brought with me to individuals , dr. mike davies and a scheduling expert who did some initial work in discussing scheduling process season phoenix. i focused my attention on working with the quality
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assurance dept. to identify what they had -- what information they had about deaths that have occurred at the facility and will review process that it put in place to look at those deaths we further put in place a process to match those deaths against potential delays in care so that we could see whether or not any of the deaths they have records of our necessarily were related to delays in care. >> you said you talked with mike davies? he did not go down with you? >> he did go down with me along with the schedulers. they spend their time talking with the folks in the scheduling office. also with providers to get an understanding of the clinic man to the problem. >> i thought you answered my question to ask you you travel to phoenix with. of the you said by yourself. >> i'm sorry. i flew by myself. they join me there them on the
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following user. >> thank you for that clarification. when did you become aware that the phoenix facility had used an excel spreadsheet in regards to patient scheduling? >> dr. davies had indicated to me that they had heard there have been use of an excess spreadsheets to transfer in permission about canceled patients to allow rescheduling of those patients. i will say that subsequently found that spreadsheet reference to be incorrect when we went back the second week and worked through the process more completely. >> what date was that on? >> the second visit occurred during the week of may 5th. i arrived on monday, may 5th and left on saturday, may 10th . >> and during what time was the spreadsheets used? >> i was correct the statement.
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and a longer think it was a spreadsheet. we now believe that it was an intermediate product generated by the vista system. when you cancel a patient it generates a document that says, these are the patients you canceled. provides information about their social security number, the date of their appointment, and the time of their appointment so that you can use that information to reschedule the patient. >> and the date that mr. davies informed you of. >> at the time we thought it was as i stressed to the committee staffers this was an injured it process. they were learning and wanted to be sure we understood the process. and believe he informed me on either april 201st or april april 22nd. absurd, 20 of the 41st.
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>> and your informed the committee staff that the spreadsheet was destroyed. when was it destroyed? who authorized it? >> my understanding was that it was tried when the patients had been rescheduled which would have been probably in late 2012 through mid 2013. >> it's my understanding that the paper waitlist make constitutes a number of items including spreadsheets, word documents, posted notes. during your investigation in phoenix did you become aware of any of the and of that may be loosely considered a paperweight list being used in phoenix? >> during the course of our second week there, my second week there we did identify the additional documents.
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they were also reference by the inspector general's report today they were than beer list. there were the request to schedule a council which was generated from the emergency department, and they were the request to a schedule that were generated from the va phoenix help line when patients called in asking for an appointment. >> and who authorized the destruction of the list? >> i am not sure, sir, who often says the distraction. think it was felt that once the purpose of the list of the document had been completed the patients in tree had been added on to the electronic weigh less for the patient had been scheduled. it was appropriate to the store the document because it contained patient identified confirmation and could potentially have adverse consequences if it was not destroyed.
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>> and to -- was it the director or a common policy that it be destroyed? >> my understanding, it is a federal mandate that we cannot keep lists of personally and of a viable information once the of serve the useful purpose. ..


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