Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald on Monday compared wait times for veterans seeking medical services to waiting in line at Disneyland. The comment drew heavy criticism from Republicans. Photo by U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs/Wikipedia
WASHINGTON, May 23 (UPI) -- Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald on Monday drew heavy criticism for comparing wait times for veterans to receive medical treatment to waiting in lines at Disneyland.
McDonald was speaking to reporters at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor when, being pressured about how the VA measures wait times for veterans medical care, made the comparison.
"The days to an appointment is really not what we should be measuring. What we should be measuring is the veteran's satisfaction," McDonald said. "When you go to Disney, do they measure the number of hours you wait in line? ... What's important is what's your satisfaction with the experience."
The comments drew immediate and angry responses from Republicans and veterans' groups.
"This is not make-believe, Mr. Secretary. Veterans have died waiting in those lines," Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., tweeted.
Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., chairman of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee, was not amused.
"Unfortunately, nearly two years after McDonald took over at VA, the department's wait-time rhetoric doesn't match up with the reality of veterans' experiences," Miller said in a statement.
Although McDonald, former CEO of Proctor & Gamble, used Disney as an example of how private companies value overall customer satisfaction over how long a customer might have to wait for service, Disney actually does cull lots of data about wait times in order to improve customer satisfaction.
In 2014, former VA secretary Eric Shinseki resigned after it was revealed that VA employees in Phoenix and other hospitals in the U.S. altered appointment dates to make it appear as if veterans wait times for medical treatment wasn't as long as they actually were.