Evidence that VA hospital was falsifying records as recently as February
By Morgan Chalfant • Washington Free Beacon
The veterans’ wait times appeared much shorter in electronic scheduling records because staffers at the Michael E. DeBakey Medical Center in Houston, Texas were told to designate appointments as cancelled by the patient when they were really cancelled by the facility, according to a VA inspector general report released on Monday.
Investigators learned through a review that two former scheduling supervisors at the hospital and a current director of two of its outpatient clinics told staffers as recently as February to designate appointments cancelled by the clinic as cancelled by patients.
“This report is a prime example of why VA is still mired in dysfunction. The inspector general caught three VA leaders red-handed instructing their subordinates to manipulate wait times,” Rep. Jeff Miller (R., Fla.), who chairs the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, told the Washington Free Beacon. Continue reading
by Pete Hegseth • RealClearPolitics
That’s the conclusion we can draw from the minuscule number of employees fired from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) a year after a nationwide patient scheduling scandal was exposed.
The question now is, what will it take to get the VA and the Obama administration to take their responsibilities to veterans seriously? Continue reading
Wisconsin senator accused of cover-up of lack of action in Tomah VA scandal
by CJ Ciaramella • Washington Free Beacon
Calls are mounting for the Senate Select Committee on Ethics to investigate Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D., Wis.) for her alleged cover-up of her office’s handling of a scandal at a Veterans Affairs hospital in Tomah, Wisconsin.
The watchdog group Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT) sent a letter to the Senate Ethics Committee on Thursday calling on the committee to investigate two complaints filed against Baldwin this week regarding the Tomah affair.
“It appears that Senator Baldwin attempted to use taxpayer funds to hide information from those very taxpayers,” FACT director Matthew Whitaker said in the letter. “It is this type of behavior that erodes public trust in our public officials, and reflects poorly on the Senate as a whole.” Continue reading
Documents show few have been fired in wake of scandal at VA hospitals
by Brent Scher • Washington Free Beacon
Rick Perry, the former governor of Texas, says it is “outrageous” that so few people have been held accountable at the Department of Veterans Affairs after the Obama administration promised action would be taken against those found responsible for manipulating wait times at VA hospitals.
Internal documents obtained by the New York Times show that despite claims by the department that at least 14 people had been fired, only three actually have lost their jobs.
“It is outrageous that the Obama administration has not held people accountable for manipulating wait times in VA hospitals after promising to take action against those implicated in the scandal,” said Perry. Continue reading
Whistleblowers from regional offices of the Veterans Benefits Administration testified before the House Veteran Affairs Committee on Monday night that the agency has been tampering with documents, manipulating records, and retaliating against employees who report problems.
Kristen Ruell, a whistleblower from a VBA regional office in Philadelphia, Pa., told the committee she received an email from an employee in triage, the location where mail is processed, telling her that clerks were setting aside incoming forms when they were not easily identifiable. Continue reading
Ordinarily, being ranked as the worst modern president of the United States would be considered unfortunate. For you Mr. President, that’s the good news.
As painful as it is to note, your presidency has not yet hit bottom. You’ve got a long way to go in your descent.
Everywhere you walk, Mr. President, the world unravels. Americans are whispering that each political missile you fire seems to hit not its target but our own house.
You have undone the core idea you’ve advanced, that a larger public sector can save us. You are becoming the one-man Keystone Cops of an experiment in weakness and incompetent government. Continue reading
Is Barack Obama’s presidency imploding? Al Qaeda is resurging. Iraq is disintegrating. And now we may look to Iran to help us stop it. Iran – a terrorist regime responsible for the deaths of thousands of Americans. What could possibly go wrong? We have drawn red lines in Syria we refuse to enforce. We stood by as Russia ceased part of Ukraine. And now we are releasing top Taliban leaders as the Afghanistan war is still going. Not to worry, they tell us Cutter’s gonna watch ’em. For a year. We hope. Domestically, we have a president who has lost the trust of the American people by repeatedly misleading them. He bypasses Congress, the people’s representatives, on matters ranging from Obamacare to immigration law, to the point where one of the most respected liberal law professors in the country has called our president “the very danger the Constitution was designed to avoid”. The American public overwhelmingly regrets Obamacare. Our veterans are dying waiting to see doctors. The IRS intimidates conservative groups. The southern border is compared to a sieve. And the president assures us not to worry – smiling, golfing, and, at this very moment, partying with fashion queen Anna Wintour. Because the fundraising never stops – not when four Americans died at Benghazi and not when Baghdad is at the brink.
The real lesson of the VA scandal.
Before Bowe Bergdahl dominated the headlines, the country was engrossed by the Veterans Affairs scandal. The VA was subjecting veterans to onerous wait times while massaging the data to show otherwise.
Much has been said about how poorly this reflects on President Obama’s managerial prowess. Secretary Eric Shinseki, a hero of the last war, has already been forced to resign. And the conduct of the bureaucrats involved was, in Shinseki’s own words, “indefensible.”
The real lesson of the VA scandal, however, is even more sobering. It’s that a single-payer healthcare system would be a calamity in the United States. Continue reading
Long queues are the price of free care.
President Obama evidently was caught by surprise by the scandal at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
So, apparently, was VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, who evidently took at face value the corrupt VA statistics — and who, after a distinguished military career, resigned last week.
One who was probably not taken by surprise is longtime Yale Law Professor Peter Schuck, who identified the problems at the VA before the scandal broke in his recently published book, “Why Government Fails So Often and How It Can Do Better.” Continue reading
For the left, the Department of Veterans Affairs is how health care is ideally supposed to work. No insurance companies, no private doctors, no competition — just the government and the patient.
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has held up the VA as a model for the entire country. The Washington Monthly ran a famous article in 2005 arguing that the VA was leading the way for U.S. health care. The socialist senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders, is such a reflexive defender that in an instantly notorious interview on CNN he pooh-poohed the burgeoning scandal that may involve fatalities with the undeniable observation that “people die every day.”
The VA is an island of socialism in American health care. It generally provides adequate care — to a limited universe of people and for only certain conditions — but has long been plagued by scandal. It is perhaps the worst bureaucracy in the federal government. As with all such single-payer-type systems, the cost of the notionally free health care is in the rationing, in this case the wait times that have had desperately ill vets hung out to dry for months. Continue reading
Having an absentee president is bad for both the health of veterans and the nation. The president may have gotten away with treating the IRS scandal as no big deal and questions about Benghazi as merely a Republican witch hunt. But the spectacle of widespread corruption at the heart of a government health-care system that led to the deaths of veterans is not one you can pass off as a product of the fevered imaginations of his opponents.
On Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney sought to partially walk back his statement yesterday in which he said President Obama learned about the growing scandal at the Veterans Administration by watching a report on the topic on CNN. After realizing just how bad that sounded, Carney returned to the daily briefing with the White House press corps today to say that his statement was being misinterpreted. According to Carney, what he really meant to say was that the president had only heard of the “specific allegations” about misconduct at VA hospitals by watching television. But, he insisted, the president was aware of problems at the VA, as proved by statements he had made during his 2008 presidential campaign when he promised to fix the agency.
Which is to say that, yes, Barack Obama had heard of the VA and had some vague intention to improve it as part of an effort to pose as someone who cares about our nation’s veterans. But between his arrival in the Oval Office and his subsequent appointment of retired Army General Eric Shinseki to head the VA in 2009 and the moment when he stumbled into awareness about the scandal during the course of spending some quality time with his remote control, he hadn’t given the topic much, if any, thought.
The administration’s problem here is not just that the VA scandal is far more serious than even Carney is currently willing to admit and that any action it is currently taking to address the plague of mismanagement and corruption that may have cost the lives of at least 40 veterans while they awaited treatment is too little and too late. As I noted last week, having an absentee president is bad for both the health of veterans and the nation. The president may have gotten away with treating the IRS scandal as no big deal and questions about Benghazi as merely a Republican witch hunt. But the spectacle of widespread corruption at the heart of a government health-care system that led to the deaths of veterans is not one you can pass off as a product of the fevered imaginations of his opponents. That’s especially true when you consider that Rep. Jeff Miller, the chair of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, wrote specifically to the president a year ago to bring to his attention what was already believed to be a widespread problem involving inefficiency and deceptive practices. Continue reading
The VA offers precisely what Obamacare offers: not a guarantee of treatment in time of need, but a guarantee of a place in line for treatment at a time of the bureaucracy’s choosing.
by Kevin O’Brien
The White House says Americans can’t draw any conclusions yet about just how screwed up is the Department of Veterans Affairs medical care system.
Well, yes, Americans can. And if they have any sense — always a debatable proposition — Americans will.
One conclusion we can draw is an old, familiar one: No matter what the issue or activity, bureaucracy’s first and strongest instinct is to protect itself in the face of a perceived threat. Continue reading