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Utah leaders say Shinseki exit first step in fixing VA
Veterans Affairs » Critics worry that chief’s departure may delay reforms for up to a year.

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Utah’s V.A. » Apparently in Utah, leaders agree, an estimated 165,000 veterans do have good access to an efficient medical-care system without the long delays reported elsewhere. Some 34,000 used medical-care services last year.

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"Right now veterans in Utah are saying they are well served," said Gary Harter, director of the state Department of Veterans and Military Affairs.

Bishop concurred that "it is clearly one of the better systems that we have in Utah. … With a few hiccups along the way, the V.A. system in Salt Lake has been ranked as one of the more effective."

Schow agrees, saying the wait time for patient care in the system here is close to the agency’s 15-day goal. That, he adds, is largely due to the leadership of Steve Young, director of the V.A. Salt Lake City Health Care System.

"He’s known as a fixer," Schow said — noting that he has been temporarily assigned in Montana and Illinois when there were problems with the V.A. systems there.

And now he has been assigned temporarily to oversee V.A. health care at the eye of the storm: Phoenix.

"I worry," said Schow, "that they’re going to promote him and that would mean we would lose him."

In the broader picture, the administration and lawmakers need to put politics aside and work together to repair the national V.A. system, he said.

"Congress needs to be a part of this fix rather than just throwing rocks," Schow said. "They might have to throw a bunch of money at this."

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Chaffetz maintains a lack of attention and leadership — not money — has caused the trouble.

"It was a problem six or seven years ago, but it never got fixed," he said. "It wasn’t for a lack of funding; it just never got done."

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