Sen. John McCain told a crowd of veterans that reported lapses in care at Phoenix veteran hospitals are part of a nationwide problem.
The Arizona senator made the comments Friday afternoon in Phoenix in front of about 100 people.
Several veterans voiced their anger and frustration to the senator at what they say is a broken system.
McCain said veterans should be allowed to pick other health care providers outside the VA, but said the system is still relevant.
Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki said this week he has ordered an audit of access to care at all VA medical centers.
Critics contend Phoenix VA administrators kept an off-the-books list to conceal long wait times as 40 veterans died waiting to get an appointment.