Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald on Monday compared the length of time veterans wait to receive health care at the VA to the length of time people wait for rides at Disneyland, and said his agency shouldn't use wait times as a measure of success because Disney doesn't either.
"When you got to Disney, do they measure the number of hours you wait in line? Or what's important? What's important is, what's your satisfaction with the experience?" McDonald said Monday during a Christian Science Monitor breakfast with reporters. "And what I would like to move to, eventually, is that kind of measure."
McDonald's comments angered House Speaker Paul Ryan, who tweeted out Monday afternoon, "This is not make-believe, Mr. Secretary. Veterans have died waiting in those lines."
McDonald faced questions at the breakfast about the VA's lack of transparency surrounding how long veterans must wait to receive care at VA facilities around the country. The agency has weathered controversy over the past several years due to its struggle to provide timely care for many patients.
The VA secretary said most veterans report being satisfied with their care and argued that the average wait time for a veteran seeking VA treatment is only a matter of days.
He said he did not believe a measure called the "create date," which gauges a veteran's wait time by counting from the day the veteran first requests care, was a "valid measure" of a veteran's VA experience.
The Government Accountability Office released a report in April exploring the metric used to count a veterans' wait time, called the "preferred date." The measure does not count from the time a veteran first calls to make an appointment.