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Local Leaders Meet Regarding VA Investigation & Legislation

MIAMI (CBSMiami) -- The national audit of the VA Hospital system has captured the attention of South Florida lawmakers.

Senator Marco Rubio visited the VA Medical Center In West Palm Beach where he met with senior hospital staff.

Afterwards, Rubio told reporters, "We have serious problems at the VA and at some facilities it is worse than others."

The audit comes in the wake of the uproar that began with reports of patients dying while waiting for appointments at the Phoenix VA center.

The audit released by the Veterans Affairs Department found nationwide, more than 57,000 veterans have been waiting 90 days or more for their first appointments.

Senator Rubio says it's time for change.

"The evidence shows if you are not doing a good job at the VA you are more likely to get a bonus or promotion rather than get fired."

This week, the Senate passed VA reform legislation that included a measure sponsored by Rubio to increase accountability by empowering the VA secretary to fire or demote senior staff based on performance.

Earlier Friday, Congressman Ted Deutch (FL-21) hosted a joint emergency meeting of Veterans Advisory Councils to update local veterans on the investigation.

"We've been assured there aren't any secret waiting lists.  We've heard most veterans have been able to see their doctors but they are working with an antiquated system that's 30 years old and needs to change," Deutch tells CBS 4 News.

Deutch also urged Florida Governor Rick Scott to help the 41,000 veterans in Florida who are not eligible for VA care and expand Medicaid coverage.

"Governor Scott ought to call a special session and implore lawmakers to take billions of Medicaid dollars so 40 thousand veterans can get the care they deserve."

Watch: Joan Murray's Report





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