After meeting with Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, President Obama is scheduled to make a statement addressing the serious VA health care delivery problems. His statement is expected to begin at 10:45 AM ET and we'll provide live updates.
7:58 AM PT: President Obama just arrived at the podium.
8:00 AM PT: Obama says he just met with Secretary Shinseki and Rob Nabors, the White House aide he's temporarily detailed to address the problems at the VA. Says "the most searing moments" of his presidency has been visiting wounded veterans. "So when I hear allegations of misconduct [...] I will not stand for it."
8:01 AM PT: "If these allegations prove to be true, it is dishonorable, it is disgraceful, and it will not be tolerated, period." Obama says he's directed Shinseki to hold accountable anyone found to have manipulated records relating to wait times or other misconduct.
8:03 AM PT: Obama says preliminary results of a nationwide review of problems from Shinseki next week and that he's tasked Rob Nabors to be the White House point person. Obama says that the problems are not new, but "we've got to do better."
8:04 AM PT: Obama also says he instructed everyone in his administration involved in fixing the VA problems to cooperate fully with Congress. "It is important that our veterans don't become another political football," he says. "Even as we get to the bottom of what happened at Phoenix and other facilities, all of us need to focus on our larger mission, which is upholding our sacred" promises to the nation's veterans.
8:06 AM PT: Obama notes that in recent years there have been many improvements in delivery of care and benefits for veterans, but he acknowledges that with expanded benefits came increased wait times, and says reducing those wait times has been and will continue to be a priority.
8:07 AM PT: "We're going to have to redouble our efforts to get it right, as a nation [...] We're going to fix" what went wrong. Now the president will take two questions.
8:10 AM PT: The first question is about the Phoenix wait times, where 40 vets died while waiting for appointments. The president says all the facts aren't in, but says that the deaths weren't necessarily caused by the waits, but also says that doesn't excuse the fact that there were waits.
8:12 AM PT: On Eric Shinseki: "Nobody cares more about our nation's veterans. [...] He has put his heart and soul into this thing" but he says "I am going to make sure there is accountability throughout the system after I get the full report."
8:13 AM PT: And another question about Shinseki's fate. Seems like a very Washington way of looking at things. Obama says essentially the same thing that he's said before, but also says that he's confident that Shinseki won't want to keep the job if he doesn't feel like he's the right guy to fix the problems.
8:18 AM PT: Obama closes by saying that much of the VA's staff is absolutely dedicated to its mission. "This is a big system with a lot of really good people in it who care about our veterans deeply. [...] I don't want us to lose sight of the fact that there a lot of folks working in the VA who are doing a really good job." But, he says, "that does not excuse" the problems in the system. In other words, he doesn't want to condemn the VA as a whole, but he also doesn't want to tolerate holes in the system.
8:20 AM PT: Obama says the thing that disturbs him most are the reports that numbers have been manipulated, saying that it's always possible to fix problems—but when people cover up problems, it makes things even worse, because not only does the underlying problem remain in place, but it is concealed, making it impossible to fix. And after making that point, the president has concluded his statement and mini-press conference.