Obama predicts VA will need more doctors – despite hundreds of job openings

May 30, 2014: President Obama speaks about the VA scandal at the White House in Washington.

May 30, 2014: President Obama speaks about the VA scandal at the White House in Washington.  (AP)

President Obama claimed Friday, after announcing the resignation of Secretary Eric Shinseki, that it's going to take more money and more doctors to fix the scandal-plagued Department of Veterans Affairs. 

Lamenting that problems with the sprawling department predate his presidency, he predicted it would need an even bigger budget to handle an influx of returning and aging veterans.   

"We may need to get more doctors. And we may need to get more nurses. And that's going to cost more money," Obama said. 

But, as previously reported, the VA already has hundreds of job openings in health care-related fields that it hasn't yet filled. 

A search on Friday of the USA Jobs federal employment website showed nearly 1,900 vacancies in the Veterans Health Administration, for a range of different jobs. 

A search for "physician" openings showed more than 1,000 vacancies at the VA. And many of these jobs pay very well -- about 30 came with a top-range salary of $375,000 or more. 

As officials turn now to the matter of funding, some have questioned whether the VA has done a good enough job staffing the positions it already has. 

Pete Hegseth, CEO of Concerned Veterans for America, last week questioned why the department didn't better prepare for veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. 

"These are self-inflicted wounds. This isn't a money issue. This is a prioritization issue," he said. "They knew there were going to be more veterans who needed care. Why didn't they prepare?" 

The unfolding scandal at the VA pertains to workers at clinics across the country lying about patient wait times, making it seem like veterans were being seen in a timely fashion when they were not -- in order to make their own internal figures look good. 

Officials, in explaining the overburdened system, have pointed to the influx of veterans from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the long-term care of aging vets from Vietnam. 

But the hundreds of vacancies show that the VA, with the influx of veterans a well-known factor, is not even operating at full capacity now. 

A search last week of VA jobs showed a number of plum positions open, including at the Phoenix VA where the scandal started. 

Among those is also a position in Kansas City, Mo., for a full-time radiologist, with a pay range of $98,967 to $295,000. 

There are also openings at the VA teaching hospital in Danville, Ill., for urologists, pulmonologists and dental laboratory technicians. The facility also has an opening for an outpatient pharmacist, tasked with dispensing "appropriate medications and counseling patients on proper medication administration and storage." The salary range is between $101,580 and $123,776.