Congresswoman Martha Roby

Representing the 2nd District of Alabama

Roby seeks records related to VA complaints

July 2, 2014
Representative Roby In The News

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby has made a request to U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for records that she says might shed light on allegations of neglect and mismanagement at the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System.

Roby, R-Montgomery, sent a letter to Sloan Gibson, acting sectary of Veterans Affairs, on Tuesday outlining the details of about 15 requests for documents, including employment records, contracts, policies, administrative reports, death investigations and settlement payments from lawsuits relating to medical care at local facilities.

Roby's office said the requests are directly related to communication she has had with patients, family members of patients, doctors and others who have come forward with information since a government investigation revealed reports about fraudulent attempts to hide appointment backlogs, falsified patient records and long wait times for veterans seeking medical care.

"The claims made are pretty alarming," said Todd Stacy, a spokesman for Roby. "And she wants to get to the bottom of it."

Stacy, who said Roby's office has been inundated with complaints for the past month or so, said the ultimate goal is to get care quickly, efficiently and up to the standard that veterans deserve.

"That's going to mean fundamental reforms throughout the VA, but specific to central Alabama. There are problems within CAVHCS that deserve some scrutiny," Stacy said.

Roby's requests primarily focus on data from 2011 to 2013, and include lists of contracted physicians, the number of patients each VA primary care provider has seen, a list of all surgeries conducted in that time period, the number of patients referred to local hospitals for X-rays and other data related to patient care.

There's also a request for descriptions of all investigations and inquiries conducted by the VA's inspector general regarding deaths in facilities from 2009 to 2013.

Stacy said Roby has not sought the information locally because of "trust issues" with the leadership of the central Alabama VA. In Roby's letter, she said the VA — both locally and nationally — has a reputation for being evasive, a reputation she said she has witnessed personally with the central Alabama VA.

Last month, Roby said she was misled by James Talton, the system's director, who told her VA employees had been fired for falsifying appointment records. Talton later said there had been a misunderstanding and that the employees were reassigned but not terminated, according to Roby.

"If a member of Congress cannot get straight answers from the VA, imagine what veterans and their families go through every day in trying to get assistance," Roby wrote in the letter. "I sincerely hope this reputation can be reversed."

Talton could not be reached for comment Tuesday.