VA Secretary Compares Wait Times to Ride Lines at Disney

Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Robert McDonald compared the length of time veterans wait for health care to the ride lines at Disney resorts, arguing that his agency shouldn't use wait times as a measure of success because the popular children's resorts don't do it either. Republicans and conservative organizations immediately shot back at him for trivializing a serious issue.

"When you get to Disney, do they measure the number of hours you wait in line?" McDonald asked during a breakfast with reporters sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor. He argued that they measure "what's important...what's your satisfaction with the experience."

"And what I would like to move to, eventually, is that kind of measure," the VA secretary concluded.

House Speaker Paul Ryan immediately responded via Twitter. "This is not make-believe, Mr. Secretary. Veterans have died waiting in those long lines," Ryan declared.

A July 2014 report from the office of Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn, who served as a medical doctor, estimated that 1,000 veterans may have died due to long wait times at the VA.

McDonald said most veterans report being satisfied with their care and argued that the average wait time for medical treatment at the VA is actually only a matter of days. He criticized the "create date" metric, which measures veteran wait times by counting from the day he or she first requests care, as an invalid measure of veterans' experience.

In April, the Government Accountability Office proposed a new metric, called the "preferred date." It does not count from the first time a veteran makes an appointment.

The conservative organization Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) condemned McDonald's comments. CVA Vice President for Political and Legislative Action Dan Caldwell called the comments more than "just offensive."

Next Page: What makes these comments just so terrifying, and how liberals respond when a conservative group calls out the VA.