Obama ordered the review last month in a response to widespread reports of long delays for treatment and medical appointments and of veterans dying while on waiting lists. But Nabors' report goes far beyond the lengthy waits and manipulated schedules raised by whistleblowers and chronicled in past internal and congressional investigations.
The review offers a series of recommendations, including a need for more doctors, nurses and trained administrative staff — proposals that are likely to face skepticism among some congressional Republicans who have blamed the VA's problems on mismanagement, not lack of resources.
"We know that unacceptable, systemic problems and cultural issues within our health system prevent veterans from receiving timely care," Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson said in a statement following an Oval Office meeting Friday with Obama and Nabors. "We can and must solve these problems as we work to earn back the trust of veterans."
While the review finds deficiencies throughout the VA, it is especially critical of the Veterans Health Administration, which has already undergone some housecleaning. Earlier this week, the VA announced that Dr. Robert Jesse, who has been acting undersecretary for health and head of the VHA, was resigning. Jesse has been acting undersecretary for health since May 16, when Robert Petzel resigned under pressure months before he was set to retire.
Nabors' report found that the VHA, the country's biggest healthcare system, acts with little transparency or accountability and many recommendations to improve care are slowly implemented or ignored. The report says concerns raised by the public, monitors or even VA leadership have been dismissed at the VHA as "exaggerated, unimportant, or 'will pass.'"
Among Nabors' other findings: