Tag: VA

VA Gets Shorted $2.6B While Obama Regime Earmarks $4.5B For Syrian “Migrants”

VA Gets Shorted $2.6 Billion While Obama Admin Budgets $4.5 Billion On Syrian Migrants – Truth And Action

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House lawmakers say the Veterans Affairs Department’s $2.6 billion budget shortfall for this fiscal year is further proof of administrators’ incompetence and poor planning.

VA officials have a slightly different take, saying the shortfall is a sign of their extraordinary efforts to get veterans the medical care they need, regardless of the cost.

Either way, the department has a gigantic deficit to fill in the next three months.

It also could mean furloughs, hiring freezes and program cancellations if a solution can’t be found.

“We are going to do the right thing for veterans and be good stewards of taxpayer dollars,” VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson told members of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee on Thursday. “But to succeed, we need the flexibility to use funds to meet veterans needs as they arise.”

Without that, he said, “we get to dire circumstances before August. We will have to start denying care to some veterans.”

Lawmakers were enraged that the department is only now informing them of significant shortfalls in this year’s budget, with the fiscal year ending Sept. 30.

“I have come to expect a startling lack of transparency and accountability from VA over the last years,” said committee chairman Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla. “But failing to inform Congress of a multibillion-dollar funding deficit until this late in the fiscal year… is disturbing on an entirely different level.” – Source: Military Times

Meanwhile, back at the White House, spokesman Josh Earnest says the United States will direct $4.5 billion to help address the dire conditions inside Syria and in refugee camps scattered across the region. – Source: Breitbart

The money will come through the U.S. Agency for International Development and Congress will not have to approve the additional spending.

So, the Veterans face a $2.6 Billion shortfall in their health care, but the While House and Congress have found a whopping $4.5 Billion to ship over to help Syrians who are overrunning Europe.

Priorities are definitely in order at the White House and in the halls of Congress.

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VA Retaliated Against Disabled Veteran Because He Tried To Get Them To Find His Lost Claims Folder

Independent Agency Confirms: VA Retaliated Against Whistleblower – Daily Caller

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An independent federal agency has just determined that the Department of Veterans Affairs retaliated against whistleblower Bradie Frink because he tried to get the VA to find his lost claims folder.

According to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC), retaliation started after Frink, a disabled veteran and employee at the Baltimore Regional Office (BRO) of the Veterans Benefits Administration, contacted Congress when he realized that the VA couldn’t add one of his children as a beneficiary to his disability payments. The reason? Employees couldn’t even locate his claims folder.

As policy, a veteran’s claim folder cannot be stored at the same office where that veteran works, in order to maintain impartiality. When Frink was hired as a clerk in February 2013, the VA attempted to move the folder out to another regional office, but soon discovered that it was lost, even though it appeared in the computer system. Frink initially made several requests, asking the VA to try and locate his folder.

He tried for months. Nothing worked. That’s when Frink decided to contact Sen. Barbara Mikulski on June 5, 2013, with a complaint that the VA was unable to make important service-connected disability payments to him and his family. Mikulski launched an inquriy and forwarded the complaint letter over to BRO, which sparked near immediate retaliation. Incidentally, during the time when Mikulski sent the letter over, BRO was being watched for how it was processing benefits claims.

VA officials started discussing ways to terminate Frink. They succeeded in firing him on July 12, 2013, during his probationary period, despite a clean performance record. Officials alleged that Frink engaged in misconduct, but OSC didn’t buy it.

“OSC’s investigation determined that the VA’s allegations about Mr. Frink lacked evidentiary support; management’s testimony was inconsistent and lacked candor; other witnesses did not corroborate the agency’s version of the events; and termination was an excessive penalty for the alleged misconduct,” the OSC said in a statement. “Further, OSC found one of the VA officials involved in Mr. Frink’s termination showed animus and all three officials involved had a clear motive to retaliate against him.”

With the OSC investigation in hand, VA officials have reinstated Frink with back pay, as well as damages for emotional distress. After a long, hard fight, Frink starts work again Tuesday, over two years after he was fired by supervisors.

“The constitutional right to petition Congress must be guaranteed for all Americans. Federal agencies cannot deny their employees this right even if it leads to scrutiny of their operations,” said Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner in a statement.

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307,000 Vets Died Waiting For VA Health Care

Report: 307,000 Veterans Died Waiting For Veterans Affairs Healthcare – Weasel Zippers

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By the time the VA got around to it, they’d been dead for years.

(CNN) Hundreds of thousands of veterans listed in the Department of Veterans Affairs enrollment system died before their applications for care were processed, according to a report issued Wednesday.

The VA’s inspector general found that out of about 800,000 records stalled in the agency’s system for managing health care enrollment, there were more than 307,000 records that belonged to veterans who had died months or years in the past.

In a response to the House Committee on Veterans Affairs’ request to investigate a whistleblower’s allegations of mismanagement at the VA’s Health Eligibility Center, the inspector general also found VA staffers incorrectly marked unprocessed applications and may have deleted 10,000 or more records in the last five years.

In one case, a veteran who applied for VA care in 1998 was placed in “pending” status for 14 years. Another veteran who passed away in 1988 was found to have an unprocessed record lingering in 2014, the investigation found.

Keep reading

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Obama VA Illegally Spending $6 Billion A Year

Veterans Affairs Improperly Spent $6 Billion Annually, Senior Official Says – Washington Post

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The Department of Veterans Affairs has been spending at least $6 billion a year in violation of federal contracting rules to pay for medical care and supplies, wasting taxpayer money and putting veterans at risk, according to an internal memo written by the agency’s senior official for procurement.

In a 35-page document addressed to VA Secretary Robert McDonald, the official accuses other agency leaders of “gross mismanagement” and making a “mockery” of federal acquisition laws that require competitive bidding and proper contracts.

Jan R. Frye, deputy assistant secretary for acquisition and logistics, describes a culture of “lawlessness and chaos” at the Veterans Health Administration, the massive health-care system for 8.7 million veterans.

“Doors are swung wide open for fraud, waste and abuse,” he writes in the March memo, which was obtained by The Washington Post. He adds, “I can state without reservation that VA has and continues to waste millions of dollars by paying excessive prices for goods and services due to breaches of Federal laws.”

Frye describes in detail a series of practices that he says run afoul of federal rules, including the widespread use of purchase cards, which are usually meant as a convenience for minor purchases of up to $3,000, to buy billions of dollars worth of medical supplies without contracts. In one example, he says that up to $1.2 billion in prosthetics were bought using purchase cards without contracts during an 18-month period that ended last year.

He also explains how VA has failed to engage in competitive bidding or sign contracts with outside hospital and health-care providers that offer medical care for veterans that the agency cannot provide, such as specialized tests and surgeries and other procedures. Frye says VA has paid at least $5 billion in such fees, in violation of federal rules that the agency’s own general counsel has said since 2009 must be followed.

Frye alleges further violations in the agency’s purchase of billions of dollars worth of prosthetics and in the acquisition of a wide range of daily medical and surgical supplies. He says many products are bought without the competitive bidding and contracts essential to ensure quality care, effective use of tight dollars and proper government oversight.

“These unlawful acts may potentially result in serious harm or death to America’s veterans,” Frye wrote. “Collectively, I believe they serve to decay the entire VA health-care system.”

VA spokeswoman Victoria Dillon said in a statement that some of the care the agency pays for is not covered by federal acquisition law. She also said that the agency is trying to manage rapid growth in medical care administered by outside providers, with authorizations for outside medical care jumping 46 percent in the first four months of 2015 over the same period last year.

Dillon said VA officials are urging Congress to pass legislation that would allow an “expedited form of purchasing care” for veterans who need to go outside the VA system. She said the bill “would also resolve legal uncertainties that have arisen” regarding the use of purchasing agreements other than those required by federal acquisition regulations.

VA has been under intense pressure to provide adequate care to the surge of veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but Frye makes clear in his memo that the agency’s violations of purchasing law have been going on for years and that senior leaders have had many opportunities to revamp their practices.

He discloses his repeated efforts to raise his concerns with other senior officials at the agency but says he was consistently ignored. He also accuses top agency officials of deceiving Congress when they were asked about questionable practices.

VA operates one of the largest health-care systems in the country, spanning 150 hospitals and more than 800 outpatient clinics. The agency has been struggling to serve not only the veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, but also a surge in veterans who served in the 1960s and 1970s.

VA has been rocked since last year by revelations about long wait times for veterans seeking treatment for health issues including cancer and post-traumatic stress disorder. McDonald’s predecessor, Eric K. Shinseki, resigned as VA secretary last year after a coverup of months-long hospital wait times became public, and Congress has given the system $10 billion in new funding to ramp up private medical care.

On Thursday, Frye will have a chance to explain his concerns directly to lawmakers. He is scheduled to testify before the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee about waste and fraud in the purchase card program.

Frye, 64, is a retired Army colonel who has overseen VA’s acquisitions and logistics programs – one of the federal government’s largest – since 2005. In his role as the agency’s senior procurement executive, he is responsible for developing and supervising VA’s practices for acquiring services and supplies, but he is not in charge of making the purchases. A former Army inspector general, he has held senior acquisition positions over 30 years in government.

Some of his concerns were previously flagged by VA’s inspector general, who has reported for years that weak contracting systems put the agency at risk of waste and abuse. Thousands of pharmaceutical purchases were made without competition or contracts in fiscal years 2012 and 2013, often by unqualified employees, investigators found. And according to documents that have not been made public, the inspector general’s office has warned VA repeatedly that its use of purchase cards needs better oversight.

For the most part, Frye does not explain why the rules are so widely flouted. But he suggests, in this discussion of purchase cards, that the reason may be laziness. He calls these payments an “easy button” way of buying things. Frye told McDonald he became aware in 2012 that government purchase cards were being used improperly by VA. About 2,000 cards had been issued to employees who were ordering products and services without contracts, Frye recounts.

He said his concerns grew after learning that a supervisor in New York had recorded more than $50 million in prosthetics purchases in increments of $24,999 – $1 under the charging limit on each card. In a response to a member of Congress who inquired about the purchases, Shinseki had few answers. “No contract files exist” and “there is no evidence of full and open competition,” Shinseki wrote in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Post.

Purchase cards, Frye says in his memo, can be a sufficient means of acquiring goods and services for “micro-purchases” up to $3,000. Above that limit, the cards can be used for payment only if there is a certified invoice linked to a properly awarded contract.

Frye’s concerns about payments for outside medical services are rooted in the reality that VA hospitals do not have the resources or specialists to provide all the treatment veterans require, such as obstetrics and joint replacements. For these services, VA normally refers veterans to a list of doctors or labs in their area.

The agency, Frye says, is required to identify providers through a competitive process and contract with them to ensure that the government pays reasonable prices and gets the best value and quality. And contracts help ensure veterans are legally protected if they get poor care or if a medical procedure goes wrong.

But according to Frye’s account, VA spent about $5 billion on outside medical care in both 2013 and 2014 in the absence of contracts, and such practices “extend back many years.” “Based on my inquiry in January 2013, [the Office of the General Counsel] confirmed in writing the fact VHA was violating the law,” Frye says.

Large medical systems similar to VA order many supplies in bulk through a list of approved vendors, identified through a competitive process, to ensure quick delivery for the best price. But VA’s system for these “just-in-time” purchases is deeply flawed, and this is yet another way that the agency wastes money, Frye says.

He writes that there are many types of supplies that are not covered by these arrangements. Instead, they are ordered off the shelf, without competition and for higher prices, from a “shopping list” containing 400,000 items, “indiscriminately and not in accordance” with acquisition laws.

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VA Officials Illegally Accessing Medical Records Of Whistleblowers In Order To Harass And Discredit Them

Shock Testimony: VA Officials Retaliate Against Whistleblowers By Illegally Accessing Their Medical Records – The Blaze

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An official at the U.S. Office of Special Counsel said Monday that Department of Veterans Affairs officials are known to be retaliating against VA whistleblowers by illegally going through their medical records, in an apparent attempt to harass and discredit these whistleblowers.

This surprising testimony from Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner was delivered at a House Veterans Affairs subcommittee hearing, which was called to discuss the problems whistleblowers face when they try to expose the ongoing failure of the VA to provide medical care to veterans.

In Lerner’s prepared testimony, she explained that many VA officials who try to reveal these problems are veterans themselves who are also seeking care at the VA. She said in some cases, VA officials try to retaliate by examining the medical records of these officials, and said this still happens – she called it an “ongoing concern.”

“In several cases, the medical records of whistleblowers have been accessed and information in those records has apparently been used to attempt to discredit the whistleblowers,” she said.

“We will aggressively pursue relief for whistleblowers in these and other cases where the facts and circumstances support corrective action,” she said.

One example of a veteran who believes his medical records were inappropriately accessed is Brandon Coleman, a Marine Corps veteran who sustained injuries to his right foot while he served. Coleman works at the VA system in Phoenix, and told TheBlaze he became a whistleblower after it became clear that someone illegally went into his medical records.

He said after he started publicizing the failures of his own office to properly treat veterans with suicidal tendencies, his own mental health was questioned by his superiors. As of this year, the VA has threatened to reduce his disability rating.

“I feel strongly that this proposal to reduce my benefits is nothing more than an additional retaliation against me because I came forward as a whistleblower,” he wrote in a March letter he gave to TheBlaze.

Coleman also added that his most recent attempts to ask who else might have gone though his medical records have been met with silence from the VA. Coleman has asked Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to look into his case.

The problem of VA officials illegally going into the medical files of their employees is one that has been noted before, but is also one that the VA was supposed to have been on the road to fixing by now. In 2010, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported that a VA official was convinced that her superiors illegally went through her medical records, which led to comments at work about her psychological care.

That report found more than 14,000 privacy violations at the Pittsburgh center.

The Monday hearing indicated that the VA’s retaliation against whistleblowers continues, even though these stories have been around for years.

“I reiterate today… that the department has had and continues to have problems ensuring that whistleblower disclosures receive prompt and effective attention, and that whistleblowers themselves are protected from retaliation,” Meghan Flanz, director of the VA’s Office of Accountability Review, told the subcommittee Monday.

Lerner of the OSC said complaints of whistleblower retaliation are on the rise. She said her office hears complaints across the federal government, but said 40 percent of them now come from the VA.

“[T]he number of new whistleblower cases from VA employees remains overwhelming,” she said. “These cases include disclosures to OSC of waste, fraud, abuse, and threats to the health and safety of veterans, and also claims of retaliation for reporting such concerns.”

Both Flanz and Lerner told the committee that it will take a while to change the “culture” of the VA. But lawmakers have routinely dismissed that answer, and have called on VA Secretary Bob McDonald to start holding officials accountable for failing to provide health care service to veterans, or for attempts to retaliate against whistleblowers.

So far, however, McDonald has done little to forcibly remove these officials – just a handful have been fired, and some have been allowed to retire with full benefits.

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VA Patients Treated With Dangerous, Counterfeit Surgical Devices And Supplies

Hospital Horror: VA Patients Treated With Bogus Medical Equipment, Supplies – Washington Times

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Unauthorized and potentially counterfeit, dangerous surgical devices and medical supplies have flowed unchecked into the Department of Veterans Affairs supply chain and into VA operating rooms, according to internal agency correspondence from a major supplier who blamed new procurement rules.

The bogus supplies gained a foothold when the department started using reverse auctions to fulfill some contracts, according to both department officials and a 2012 memo from Johnson & Johnson, the world’s largest medical device business.

In the memo, the company told the VA it was getting surgical supplies bought from unauthorized distributors through the so-called “gray market,” and said those supplies raised serious questions about patient safety, according to emails obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.

Officials also warned the VA that an ongoing corporate investigation into the gray market showed how some unauthorized sellers were passing off products stolen from other hospitals.

“We do not believe that the VA intended for its efforts to utilize new procurement tools such as reverse auctions to result in these outcomes,” a company official wrote.

The Johnson & Johnson memo included a list of seven gray market surgical supply purchases by agency medical centers in a half-dozen states. But the company made clear there were more examples across the VA.

The warnings were issued months after the VA had a fierce internal debate over using reverse auctions, which have sellers compete to offer goods or services at the lowest price.

A top contracting official, Jan Frye, had put a halt on reverse auctions earlier in 2012, citing a “groundswell” of complaints from VA suppliers. But within weeks, the VA reversed after fierce lobbying from FedBid, the politically connected contractor handling the VA’s reverse auction platforms.

An inspector general’s report earlier this year issued a scathing rebuke to the VA over its dealings with FedBid, and said a VA procurement official, Susan Taylor, had improper contacts with FedBid. The inspector general recommended FedBid be disbarred. Ms. Taylor resigned soon after the report.

Emails obtained by The Times show concerns about reverse auctions persisted.

According to Johnson & Johnson, a South Carolina VA facility received a delivery of “trocar” surgical devices from an unauthorized distributor that was sent to VA without a box and was instead wrapped in yellowed packaging and rubber bands.

“The product being sold may not have been stored properly (high temperature, high humidity, no pest control, etc.), which could create patient risk,” Paul B. Smith, government account director for the company, told the VA, explaining the results of an ongoing company investigation.

An internal VA advisory group also raised an alarm in 2012 in a closed meeting with VA’s senior procurement council, which is composed of the agency’s top acquisition officials. The group recommended that VA stop purchasing “clinically oriented products” through reverse auctions.

Among other issues, the advisory group said FedBid had blocked access to names and contact information for contracting officers. And FedBid officials weren’t qualified to handle clinical purchases, according to the group.

“They do not possess the clinical expertise to position themselves between the buyer and vendor,” the industry group wrote in a report, adding that some VA suppliers refused to participate in reverse auctions.

“As a result of limited participation, FedBid in some cases sourced products from unauthorized distributors,” the report stated. “This has both resulted in significantly increased costs and encouraged the use of ‘gray market’ or counterfeit products.”

In an email statement to The Washington Time, a FedBid spokesman said the company had “established measures to protect against unauthorized sellers and will suspend or remove sellers who attempt to undermine the integrity of the marketplace.”

The company also said that government contracting officers ultimately have a responsibility to ensure they’re buying the right products.

“As with every procurement process, whether it is a reverse auction, single source contract, or open tendering, each buyer has the responsibility to ensure that they are purchasing the right products for their customer,” FedBid spokesman Andres Mancini wrote in an email.

In an email on Friday responding to questions from The Times placed earlier this week, a VA spokeswoman said Johnson & Johnson raised the issue in 2012 with the Veterans Health Administration, which prompted the agency to initiate a validation process among small business suppliers.

Spokeswoman Genevieve Billia noted in an email that VA couldn’t say how often it finds counterfeit material, but noted, “VA has a process in place to identify such items that come in, sot that they do not get to the patient.”

In September, two years after Johnson & Johnson contacted the VA, the agency inspector general’s office issued a report substantiating several of the concerns.

Contractors taking part in reverse auctions needed only to “self certify” that they’re authorized distributors of official surgical products sought by VA, according to auditors. The lack of more stringent requirements put VA at risk of buying from unauthorized distributors, according to the report.

In a written response to the inspector general’s report this year, VA officials agreed with a recommendation to ensure against the purchase of gray market items.

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Over 500 Grievous Injuries Or Deaths Resulting From Poor Care Occurred At VA Hospitals In 2013

Over 500 Grievous Injuries Or Deaths At VA Hospitals In 2013 – Washington Free Beacon

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Veterans Affairs hospitals across the country reported more than 500 incidents last year where patients were gravely injured or died as a result of the care they received.

Data obtained by the WashingtonFree Beacon through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) shows 575 “institutional disclosures of adverse events” – the bureaucratic phrase for reporting a serious mistake – at VA hospitals in fiscal year 2013.

See the data here.

According to the Veterans Health Administration ethics handbook, such disclosures are required when “an adverse event has occurred during the patient’s care that resulted in or is reasonably expected to result in death or serious injury.”

Specifically, adverse events are defined by the department as “untoward incidents, diagnostic or therapeutic misadventures, iatrogenic injuries, or other occurrences of harm or potential harm directly associated with care or services provided” by the VA.

How many of the 575 “adverse events” reported last year resulted in patient deaths is unknown. It is also unclear how 2013 compared to previous years. The Free Beacon has filed another FOIA request seeking this information.

“Until VA leaders make a serious attempt to address the department’s widespread and systemic lack of accountability, I fear we’ll only see more of these lapses in care,” Rep. Jeff Miller (R., Fla.), the head of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, said in a statement to the Free Beacon.

“Like other hospital systems, VA isn’t immune from human error – even fatal human error,” Miller said. “But what the department does seem to be immune from is meaningful accountability. Given that these tragic events are part of a pattern of preventable veteran deaths and other patient-safety issues at VA hospitals around the country, it’s well past time for the department to put its employees on notice that anyone who lets patients fall through the cracks will be held fully responsible.”

The VA came under intense scrutiny from Congress and the media this year after whistleblowers revealed thousands of veterans were placed on secret wait lists and dozens died awaiting treatment.

VA Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned earlier this year as a result of the uproar that followed. The department also ordered a nationwide audit of its consulting practices.

The VA also disclosed in April that, since 1999, 76 patients were seriously injured because of delayed gastro-intestinal cancer screenings, and 23 died.

Medical privacy laws strictly bar from disclosure the names of patients and other details, making it difficult to document individual cases. However, the data obtained by the Free Beacon gives a broad view of serious mistakes at VA hospitals over the past year.

Gainesville

The Malcom Randall VA Medical Center in Gainesville, Fla., reported 31 “adverse events” during fiscal year 2013, the most of any VA facility.

The VA also confirmed two patients died at North Florida/South Georgia system, where the Gainesville hospital is located, due to delayed cancer screenings.

The system is the busiest in the country, serving roughly 125,000 VA patients per year.

VA hospitals have struggled to handle the flood of new patients in the years following 9/11, especially after the troop drawdowns from Iraq and Afghanistan in recent years.

However, numerous congressional investigations and internal audits by the VA also describe a corrosive work environment, where leadership encouraged staff to cook the books to meet performance standards and where whistleblowers were harshly punished.

Three VA officials in Gainesville were placed on leave this year after an audit by the VA Inspector General found the hospital was using a secret paper list to keep track of appointments.

There were also allegations that surgeons were not allowed to perform certain operating room procedures to avoid increased mortality rates, and that patients with a high mortality risk were sent to a local hospital. However, the VA Inspector General said in a report Monday it could not substantiate those claims.

The Malcom Randall VA Medical Center did not return requests for comment.

Pittsburgh

The VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System reported 26 disclosures in fiscal year 2013.

CBS reported earlier this year that the Pittsburgh VA failed to warn patients of a fatal Legionnaires’ Disease outbreak. At least six veterans died and 16 fell ill from February 2011 to November 2012 as a result of the outbreak, while leadership tried to insulate the hospital from the Centers for Disease Control and congressional investigations.

A Pittsburgh VA official later falsely testified before Congress that the outbreak was the result of the city’s water treatment, when in fact the hospital had known for more than a year that it was caused by human error.

Augusta

The Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta, Ga., reported 14 “adverse events” during fiscal year 2013, and three cancer patients died as a result of delayed screenings over the past two years.

According to a 2012 report from the VA Inspector General’s Office, five patients died or sustained serious injury as a result of mismanagement between 2007 and 2010, and more than 4,500 gastrointestinal endoscopy consults went unresolved.

A recent VA audit reported that 26 new patients in Augusta had to wait at least 90 days for an appointment. Additionally, 133 veterans were not scheduled for an appointment despite requesting one in the past 10 years.

Since then, Augusta officials say they have reduced the number of veterans waiting at least 90 days for an appointment from 26 patients to two.

Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson toured the center last week, as part of a national tour of VA facilities, and said much of the scheduling problems were due to staff shortages.

“It should not take so darn long to hire someone,” Gibson said. “We need to make sure we’re talking to staff more frequently and understanding their needs. The employees here truly care.”

There are currently four open federal investigations into whistleblower retaliation at the hospital.

Columbia

In Columbia, S.C., the William Jennings Bryan Dorn veterans hospital reported 13 serious mistakes in patient care during fiscal year 2013. There have been six total deaths since 1999 due to delayed cancer screenings, according to the VA report.

A February report by the VA Inspector General found the Dorn hospital faced staffing and equipment shortages that led to delays. The report also noted that Dorn ranked 127th out of 128 VA facilities in health care-associated infections during 2013.

In response, the Dorn VA hospital agreed said it was immediately taking steps to fix the problems.

The hospital reported four more “institutional disclosures” in the second quarter of fiscal year 2014.

The Dorn VA hospital did not return requests for comment.

Wrongful death payments

Another measure of how patients are killed or gravely injured due to VA mistakes is wrongful death payments.

The Malcom Randall VA Medical Center in Gainesville has made more than $5 million in wrongful death payments in the years since 9/11, according to data from the Center for Investigative Reporting.

Overall, the Department of Veterans Affairs has paid out more than $200 million in wrongful death payments since then. But it is also an incomplete look at the problem.

According to the Center for Investigative Reporting, “independent legal analysts say the nearly 1,000 wrongful death payments in the decade after 9/11 represent a small percentage of the veterans who have died because of malpractice by the Department of Veterans Affairs.”

Eddie Creed, a Seattle-area jazz musician, died in 2012 at a VA facility after a medical device malfunctioned and emptied a lethal dose of morphine into his body. The medical device had been recalled a month earlier.

Creed’s death certificate said he was killed by throat cancer.

The VA refused to release the details of an internal investigation into the accident to Creed’s family until after local news outlet KUOW investigated the incident.

The VA Inspector General found that the Dorn VA hospital failed to peer-review numerous patient deaths – many of them shortly after surgeries – that met the criteria for review. The hospital has since gone back and reviewed those deaths.

The Department of Veterans Affairs did not immediately return a request for comment for this article.

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‘They Said His Soul Was Gone’: Wife’s Outrage After Unconscious Vet Was Pronounced DEAD At VA Hospital – Daily Mail

A woman in Kentucky is demanding answers from a local VA hospital after she claims her husband was erroneously pronounced dead.

According to Jennifer Dunn, doctors at the Lexington VA Hospital assured her last week that her husband, Danny Dunn, was no longer among the living.

The wife was given her husband’s time of death, but when she went into his room to bid a final farewell, she found Mr Dunn with a strong heart rate and blood pressure.

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It all started last Thursday morning when 46-year-old Danny Dunn, an U.S. Army veteran, was discovered unconscious by his wife in their Central Kentucky home.

The former soldier was rushed to a hospital in Harrodsburg and was later airlifted to the VA Hospital in Lexington, where medical personnel pronounced him dead.

‘I said, “Are ya’ll sure he’s gone?” and they said, “There’s no pulse, ma’am, he’s gone,”‘ Jennifer Dunn told LEX18.

In accordance with her husband’s end-of-life wishes, Mrs Dunn made the decision to take him off life support, but she quickly discovered that Danny still had vital signs.

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As of Monday, the 46-year-old veteran was very much alive, and according to his wife, apparently growing stronger.

‘He squeezed my hand when I asked him to,’ she said. ‘He opened his eyes when I asked him to. And he grabbed my hand.’

The Dunn family now want the ailing husband and father transferred to another hospital for treatment.

The VA facility in Lexington released a general statement to the local TV station, which read in part: ‘Veterans can have confidence that our staff of dedicated and professional providers is committed to working with them and their families to honor their wishes and support their needs.’

But the Dunns are far from satisfied with the hospital’s response to the near-fatal blunder.

‘They said his soul was gone and that he wasn’t living no more,’ said Dunn’s son, Tyler. ‘That he was gone long before we got him there… I mean we’re just looking for answers and they won’t give us any.’

This case is yet another black eye for the beleaguered VA system, which has faced public scrutiny in connection to explosive allegations of poor – and at times non-existent – medical care offered to servicemen and women.

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The VA’s inspector general has confirmed that at least 35 veterans died while awaiting appointments at the agency’s Phoenix medical center alone.

The resulting election-year firestorm forced VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign in May. A half-dozen other VA officials have resigned or retired since then.

More than 8million of the nation’s 21million veterans are now enrolled in VA health care, although only about 6.5million seek VA treatment every year.

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Former Maryland VA Official Pleads Guilty In $1.4M Fraud Scheme

Former VA Official Pleads Guilty In $1.4M Fraud Scheme – WBAL

A former Deputy Chief of Veterans Claims in the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs pleaded guilty Monday to extortion in connection with a scheme to fraudulently obtain over $1.4 million in veterans benefits.

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The plea agreement was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein and Special Agent in Charge Kim R. Lampkins of the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General.

In January 2011, U.S. Army veteran David Clark, age 67, of Hydes, Maryland, retired from the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs as the deputy chief for veterans claims. Clark’s duties included submitting claims and documentation on behalf of veterans in Maryland who appointed the MDVA to represent them in obtaining federal benefits from the VA. Clark also submitted documents to the Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation in support of veterans’ applications for property tax waivers.

According to his plea agreement, while serving at Deputy Chief of Claims, Clark fraudulently obtained VA compensation for himself and at least 17 others, by submitting false documents to the VA purporting to show that the claimants had been diagnosed with diabetes, and in some cases, that the claimant had served in Vietnam when they had not. The claimants paid Clark half of the retroactive lump sum payment they received in cash or some other amount of cash. These payments to Clark were made in unmarked envelopes, at MDVA offices in Bel Air; at the Fallon Federal Building in Baltimore; and at other locations.

In support of these claims, Clark submitted fake letters from doctors purportedly treating the veterans, which falsely stated that the claimants suffered from Type II diabetes. Clark used the names and addresses of real doctors who were unaware of his conduct. Each letter stated that the diagnosis of Type II diabetes had been made a year or more prior to the date of the letter, which entitled each claimant to a retroactive lump-sum payment. The letters also stated that the claimants were currently taking insulin, which increased the amount of compensation the VA paid the claimant.

Clark created counterfeit versions of a Defense Department form for himself and five others, which falsely stated that each had served in Vietnam. These forms also falsely stated that these individuals had received various awards and decorations for the Vietnam service, including that Clark himself had been awarded the Purple Heart Medal. These documents were submitted to the VA to provide false evidence that they qualified for compensation benefits for diabetes.

Clark also submitted false certifications to the SDAT, on behalf of claimants that owned homes in Maryland, that the filers were entitled to a property tax waiver due to a service-connected disability.

The false claims cost the government $1,151,219 and the loss from the property tax evasion is $255,555, for a total loss of $1,407,134, officials said.

Clark faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Clark has agreed to forfeit $1,407,134.

A sentencing date is scheduled for Nov. 17.

Eight other veterans have previously pleaded guilty to paying Clark cash to submit false documentation to receive VA benefits:

* John Bratcher, 56, of Conowingo, Maryland, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force
* Richard Genco, 71, of Baltimore, a veteran of the U.S. Navy
* Paul Heard, 65, of Baltimore, a veteran of the U.S. Navy
* George Kulla, 68, of Baltimore, a veteran of the U.S. Army
* Sandra Tyree, 65, of Baltimore, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and former employee of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
* Kenneth Webster, 68, of Pasadena, Maryland, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and a former police officer with AMTRAK
* Raymond Sadler, 63, of Middle River, Maryland, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps
* Kenneth Williams, age 65, of Baltimore, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps.

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*VIDEO* House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Hearing On Widespread Corruption Within The VA



……………………….Click on image above to watch video.

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Statist Disaster Update: Hundreds Of Thousands Of VA Electronic Disability Claims Go Unprocessed

Hundreds Of Thousands Of VA Electronic Disability Claims Not Processed – Nextgov

Hundreds of thousands of disability claims filed with the Department of Veterans Affairs’ eBenefits portal launched in February 2013 are incomplete and could start to expire this month, Nextgov has learned.

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VA Undersecretary for Benefits Allison Hickey touted the new portal in June 2013 as simple as filing taxes online and a way to whittle down the claims backlog.

“Veterans can now file their claims online through eBenefits like they might do their taxes online,” she said, including the documentation needed for a fully developed claim in cooperation with Veterans Service Organizations, or VSOs, such as the American Legion or Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Gerald Manar, deputy director of the National Veterans Service at VFW, told Nextgov the Veterans Benefits Administration on June 26 briefed VSOs on problems with the eBenefits portal, including the fact that only 72,000 claims filed through eBenefits have been completed and approved since last June, with another 228,000 incomplete.

VA spokeswoman Meagan Lutz said since February 2013, just over 445,000 online applications have been initiated. Of those, approximately 70,000 compensation claims have been submitted and another 70,000 nonrating (add a dependent, etc.) have been submitted, leaving a total of 300,000 incomplete claims. Because a number of claims started are more than 365 days old, they have now expired, totaling an estimated 230,000 unprocessed claims.

Manar said he still is trying to understand why so many vets did not complete their online claims and whether they opted to file a paper claim. Lutz said an important element of the electronic claim submission process is the ability for veterans to start a claim online with limited information to hold a date of claim, while simultaneously providing 365 days to collect data, treatment records and other related information.

Lutz said a veteran simply hits “save” and any information provided is saved in temporary tables. During that 365-day period, a veteran may add additional data or upload documents associated with that specific claim. At any point during that timeframe, a veteran can hit the “submit” button and a claim will be automatically established within the Veterans Benefits Management System, designed to entirely automate claims processing by next year, and documents will be uploaded to the veteran’s e-folder.

Claims submitted in eBenefits may be incomplete because “many users can potentially start a claim as part of their exploration of the system… The VA eBenefits team has no way of actually knowing which claims that might be started within eBenefits are valid and or have been abandoned for any number of reasons

After 365 days, Lutz said, the data is made inaccessible and the initiated claim date is removed from the system. The system was designed to provide the veteran as much flexibility as possible in preserving that start date as well as support the Fully Developed Claim initiative, which gives the veteran the opportunity to accrue additional benefits for providing all the data needed to rate the claim.

Lutz said if vets try to submit electronically hundreds of documents, such as PDFs of medical records, “that volume of documents makes electronic submission very difficult, and we always recommend that they work with a Veterans Service Organization, as the VSOs have the expertise to ensure that the right information is gathered and submitted.”

VSOs have little visibility into the claims filed to date through the eBenefits portal because of design problems with the information technology system set up, the Stakeholder Enterprise Portal, Manar said. That portal only allows for broad searches for claims at the state and the VBA regional office level, and limits any search to 1,000 claims. If the search results in more than 1,000 records, SEP returns a message that the system is not available, rather than the search went over the 1,000 file limit, Manar said.

SEP is also not set up to notify VSOs when a claim is filed through eBenefits, nor does it provide alerts when claims are due to expire, Manar said and urged VA to fix SEP to provide such notifications.

SEP, Manar said, was not “well thought-out” when fielded and “the whole system was not ready for prime time.”

Lutz said VA SEP design team is working as quickly as possible to help VSOs to review more than 1,000 files in SEP without getting an incorrect error message.

She said VA plans a new release of SEP this month to VSOs, which will allow VSOs to submit claims directly to VBMS for veterans who hold power of attorney. This update would eliminate the need for the veteran to submit from the eBenefits portal.

“This, we believe, will be a major milestone in the VSO community that will accelerate acceptance of the electronic process,” Lutz said.

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Look, Another VA Medical Center Scandal!

VA Medical Center Scandal – Daily Caller

A failure to scan outsourced medical records has caused an approximate three- to five-month backlog at the Memphis Veteran Administration Medical Center, The Daily Caller has learned.

TheDC was exclusively given a photo snapped of the medical records room on June 12, 2014. In the photo, hundreds of unprocessed medical records sit idly, causing delays of up to five months.

According to a whistle-blower who wished to remain anonymous because they are still employed by the Memphis VA Medical Center, the medical records room is for entering test results and other medical data that occurs after a patient is outsourced for medical tests or procedures.

A recent audit by the VA found the Memphis VA Medical Center had an average wait time for the initial appointment of fifty days, which flagged this facility for extra inspections.

The medical records shown in the photo are generated when the VA refers a patient to another hospital for further medical procedures. Medical tests like colonoscopies, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), and X-rays, are among the tests that can be performed by an outside hospital, said the whistle-blower.

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The outside hospital then sends their results back to the Memphis VA Medical Center, and those results are supposed to be scanned into the VA system.

Instead of being scanned in, the results are piling up, said the whistle-blower, causing further delays beyond the initial wait times.

“If you’re waiting for the results of a colonoscopy, [the added wait time is] the difference between life and death,” the whistle-blower told TheDC.

According to this whistle-blower, about an hour after TheDC sent VA communications officer Sandra Glover an email listing these charges, the medical records were moved from the medical records room and into the office of Rebecca England, the chief of Medical Records. Glover is a communications officer for the Veteran Integrated Services Network 9, which includes the Memphis VA Medical Center.

The Memphis VA Medical Center is now scrambling, asking dozens to work over-time in order to clear up the back log, and the VA police are investigating the source of the leak to TheDC, the whistle-blower noted.

TheDC sent a follow-up email to to Ms. Glover and she confirmed much of this story:

The Memphis VA Medical Center cares deeply for every veteran we are privileged to serve. Our goal is to provide the best quality care in a safe environment, as quickly and effectively as we can. After receiving the photograph you sent, we checked with the Memphis VA Medical Center to determine its validity and, if warranted, what actions could be taken to process those medical records as quickly as possible.

It was determined that the record – forwarded from the facility’s outpatient clinics – should have been processed, and subsequently the facility took the appropriate actions to scan them in to the electronic patient record. Memphis VA Medical Center hired a new supervisor two months ago in the patient records area and the consult process has been redesigned to better monitor timeliness. We continue to take action to strengthen oversight mechanisms to prevent delays.

While we regret that the files weren’t processed in a more timely fashion, this is an administrative function that did not impact patient outcomes. Critical clinical information was previously communicated with treating clinicians. In the end, these files have been addressed – which is what we want for the sake of all our patients. Thank you for your concern for our nation’s veterans and for bringing this to our attention.

TheDC spoke with a veteran who was likely affected by this backlog. Jesse Blakely served in the military in the early 1970s.

In November 2013, he walked into the Memphis VA Medical Center complaining of chest pains. After waiting several hours in the emergency room with no help, Blakely left and was treated at nearby Methodist Hospital.

Blakely said Methodist Hospital ran several tests as part of his treatment, but his follow-up appointment at the Memphis VA Medical Center didn’t occur until the beginning of June – more than six months later.

Blakely told TheDC that to add insult to injury, even though he was initially assured by the VA that his medical bills would be covered, he’s since been charged for his trip to the Methodist Hospital emergency room.

Earlier in June, TheDC broke exclusively that in 2010, the same Memphis VA Medical Center approved over $1 million in bonuses while closing a therapy pool just a few months later citing a lack of funds. Bill O’Reilly used that report as the basis of his “Is it Legal” segment the next day.

A staffer at the House Veteran Affairs Committee told TheDC the committee was unaware of any other VA hospitals where outsourced medical tests were causing back logs.

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Corrupt Obama Regime Knew About VA’s Secret Wait Lists For Years

Obama Administration Knew About VA’s Secret Wait Lists For Years – Daily Caller

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The Obama administration knew about allegations of secret waiting lists at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) as early as 2010, The Daily Caller has learned.

The current VA scandal involving secret waiting lists that led to preventable veteran deaths at the Phoenix VA Medical Center claimed the scalp of Obama-appointed former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, who resigned at the end of last month. Former White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said that President Obama only found about the VA wait-list scandal from watching the news.

But the Obama administration knew that an internal VA investigation into secret “paper” waiting lists was conducted in 2010 under Shinseki.

“We conducted this review to determine the validity of an allegation that senior officials in Veterans Integrated Service Network 20 (VISN) instructed employees at the Portland VA Medical Center to use unauthorized wait lists to hide access and scheduling problems,” according to an August 17, 2010 VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) report entitled “Review of Alleged Use of Unauthorized Wait Lists at the Portland VA Medical Center,” which was obtained by TheDC.

The report was based on an OIG review conducted in Portland, Oregon between March and June 2010. The facility, like all VA medical centers, was prohibited from keeping paper waiting lists separate from the official electronic waiting-list system.

“OIG has reported problems since 2005 with schedulers not following established procedures for making or recording medical appointments. This practice has resulted in data integrity weaknesses that impacted the reliability of patient waiting times and facility waiting lists,” the report continued.

“The OIG received an anonymous e-mail alleging the use of unauthorized paper wait lists, and that the eye clinics had over 3,500 patients waiting more than 30 days for appointments,” according to the report.

The IG report noted that “We did not substantiate the allegation” about the unauthorized wait lists but nonetheless found that some staff did not notify more than 2,000 patients of follow-up appointments.

“No one admitted to either instructing or being instructed to use unauthorized paper wait lists,” the report stated. “We also conducted visual inspections of schedulers’ work areas and found no evidence of paper wait lists.”

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel is currently investigating claims of reprisal and abuse against VA whistleblowers in 19 different states.

“It’s not that people haven’t brought this up before, it’s just the word ‘secret’ lists blew it up in the media,” Vietnam Veterans of America’s Richard Weidman revealed in a recent interview, noting the long-known existence of “handwritten” VA wait lists separate from the electronic systems.

Click HERE For Rest Of Story

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57,000 Veterans Had To Wait Over 90 Days To See A VA Doctor While 63,000 More Were Simply Ignored (Video)

57K Vets Wait For Appointments – The Hill

The White House on Monday came under increased pressure to launch a criminal probe of the Veterans Affairs Department after an audit found more than 100,000 veterans were kept waiting for medical care.

The audit uncovered evidence of widespread tampering of documents at Veterans Affairs (VA) clinics, with schedulers receiving direction from their superiors to use “unofficial lists” to make the waiting times for appointments “appear more favorable.”

The audit found more than 57,000 veterans waited at least 90 days to see a doctor, and an additional 63,000 people over the past decade never received an initial appointment at all.

Republican leaders in Congress called the findings a “national disgrace” as members of both parties demanded the Justice Department prosecute the officials responsible.

“The Department of Justice should get off the sidelines and start actively pursuing charges where applicable to the fullest extent of the law,” said Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), the chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

In the Senate, 11 Democrats joined 10 Republicans in urging an “effective and prompt” investigation by federal authorities. The leaders of the push – Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) – said criminal charges shouldn’t wait on the results of a VA inspector general (IG) investigation that will be released in August.

“The spreading and growing scale of apparent criminal wrongdoing is fast outpacing the criminal investigative resources of the IG, and the revelations in the interim report only highlight the urgency of involvement by the Department of Justice,” the senators wrote.

The damaging findings of the audit could spur Congress into quick action on legislation aimed at fixing the VA’s problems and clearing the backlog for treatment.

The Senate is likely to vote this week on a compromise bill from McCain and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) that would allow veterans experiencing long wait times to seek private medical care. The bill would allow for immediate firings of VA employees and expedite the hiring of medical staff.

“I am happy to schedule a vote on it as quickly as possible,” Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said.

On the other side of the Capitol, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) promised the House would act this week on a “common-sense bill” that would allow veterans who have waited more than 30 days for an appointment to seek private care.

The audit released Monday, while harshly critical of the VA, pushed some of the blame to Congress, arguing the goal of setting up appointments within 14 days was “not attainable” given the growing demand for services.

Sanders, the chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, stressed that point even as he called for the immediate firing of “incompetent administrators and those who have manipulated wait-time data.”

“The reason certain VA facilities around the country have long wait times is because they lack an adequate number of doctors, nurses and other medical practitioners,” Sanders said.

Still, the audit represents a harsh and sweeping indictment of the VA.

About 500 of the VA staffers interviewed, or 13 percent, said they received instructions to enter appointment dates different from what veterans had requested, and 8 percent, or about 300, said they used “alternatives” to the official scheduling system.

Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson is scrambling to try and clean up the department.

In a release accompanying the audit, the VA promised that cases of “willful misconduct” would be investigated so that “appropriate personnel actions” can be taken.

“Where appropriate, VA will initiate the process of removing senior leaders,” the VA said.

Gibson said the VA was in the process of contacting more than 90,000 veterans during the first phase of a new initiative accelerating care. He said 50,000 had been contacted so far.

Those steps are unlikely to stem pressure on the White House, which is trying to contain the damage from the scandal before it becomes an albatross on Democrats in the midterm elections.

The White House said the release of the audit reflected President Obama’s “commitment to try to be transparent” about the process of reforming the department.

“This is a large task,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest. “There is no sugar-coating that. But it is a task the president’s never been more dedicated to.”

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Click HERE For Rest Of Story

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VA Scandal Exposes Greedy Socialism (Glenn Harlan Reynolds)

VA Scandal Exposes Greedy Socialism – Glenn Harlan Reynolds

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So Secretary Eric Shinseki is now ex-secretary Shinseki, and cleaning up the Department of Veterans Affairs’ health care mess will now be someone else’s job. But there’s a good chance that no matter who is in charge, the cleanup will be, basically, impossible. That’s because the VA is government health care.

Not all that long ago, some people were boosting the VA’s government-run nature as a plus. Writing in the Washington Post during the debate over Obamacare, Ezra Klein suggested that we should expand VA coverage to non-veterans, because the government just does health care better than the private sector: “Medicare is single-payer, but VA is actually socialized medicine, where the government owns the hospitals and employs the doctors… If you ordered America’s different health systems (from) worst-functioning to best, it would look like this: individual insurance market, employer-based insurance market, Medicare, Veterans Health Administration.”

A couple of years later, in 2011, Klein hailed the VA health system as an example of “when socialism works in America“: “The thing about the Veteran’s (Affairs’) health-care system? It’s socialized. Not single-payer. Not heavily centralized. Socialized. As in, it employs the doctors and nurses. Owns the hospitals… If I could choose my health-care reform, I don’t think I’d go as far towards government control as the VA does. But the program is one of the most remarkable success stories in American public policy, and it needs to be grappled with.”

Now that the VA has erupted in scandals involving phony wait lists, and people dying because of treatment delays, an audit reveals a “systemic lack of integrity” in the system. According to the auditors, “Information indicates that in some cases, pressures were placed on schedulers to utilize inappropriate practices in order to make waiting times appear more favorable.”

In other words, they cooked the books. And what’s more, they did it to ensure bigger “performance bonuses.” The performance may have been fake, but the bonuses were real. (One whistle-blower compared the operation to a “crime syndicate.”)

And that captures an important point. People sometimes think that government or “nonprofit” operations will be run more honestly than for-profit businesses because the businesses operate on the basis of “greed.” But, in fact, greed is a human characteristic that is present in any organization made up of humans. It’s all about incentives.

And, ironically, a for-profit medical system might actually offer employees less room for greed than a government system. That’s because VA patients were stuck with the VA. If wait times were long, they just had to wait, or do without care. In a free-market system, a provider whose wait times were too long would lose business, and even if the employees faked up the wait-time numbers, that loss of business would show up on the bottom line. That would lead top managers to act, or lose their jobs.

In the VA system, however, the losses didn’t show up on the bottom line because, well, there isn’t one. Instead, the losses were diffused among the many patients who went without care — visible to them, but not to the people who ran the agency, who relied on the cooked-books numbers from their bonus-seeking underlings.

And, contrary to what Klein suggests, that’s the problem with socialism. The absence of a bottom line doesn’t reduce greed and self-dealing – it removes a constraint on greed and self-dealing. And when that happens, ordinary people pay the price. Keep that in mind, when people suggest that free-market systems are somehow morally inferior to socialism.

Click HERE For Rest Of Story

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Eric Shinseki Resigns Over VA Douchebaggery

Shinseki Resigns Over Growing VA Scandal – Fox News

President Obama announced Friday that embattled Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki would take the fall for the rapidly growing scandal over veterans’ health care, accepting his resignation under pressure from members of both parties.

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The president announced that Shinseki would resign after they met at the White House and he received an update on an internal review of the problems at the VA. The review showed the problems were not limited to just a few facilities, Obama said, adding: “It’s totally unacceptable. Our veterans deserve the best.”

On the heels of those and other findings, Obama said, “Secretary Shinseki offered me his own resignation – with considerable regret, I accepted.”

He said Shinseki told him he did not want to be a distraction. “I agree,” Obama said. “We don’t have time for distractions. We need to fix the problem.”

The president had faced mounting calls from members of both parties to remove Shinseki; those calls accelerated after a damning inspector general report on Wednesday. Shinseki suffered another blow on Friday when Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., a former top VA official, called for her former boss’ resignation.

Shinseki’s departure is likely to calm the political storm, but only briefly. Congressional critics of VA leadership voiced support for the decision on Friday, but urged the administration to quickly get to the root of the problems with VA workers lying about patient wait times.

“VA’s problems are deadly serious, and whomever the next secretary may be, they will receive no grace period from America’s veterans, American taxpayers and Congress,” Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, said in a statement.

House Speaker John Boehner said the resignation “does not absolve the president.” The resignation also has not muted calls for the Justice Department to launch a criminal probe.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., and Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., said in a joint statement that they would continue to push a bill providing resources for such a probe. “This scandal has dragged on over a decade. We believe the Department of Justice should begin investigations right away,” they said.

The president, who for weeks stood by Shinseki as the allegations of wrongdoing mounted, said it was Shinseki’s own judgment that he’d be a distraction that changed his mind. The president said Sloan Gibson, deputy VA secretary, would be named acting VA secretary while the administration seeks a permanent replacement.

Earlier Friday morning, Shinseki publicly apologized for the failures in the VA system. Responding to an interim inspector general report which found “systemic” problems with clinics misrepresenting patient wait times, Shinseki also announced he would oust senior leaders at the Phoenix VA, where allegations of improper scheduling practices first surfaced.

Shinseki, speaking to advocates for homeless veterans, said he initially believed the problems were “limited and isolated.”

“I no longer believe that. It is systemic,” Shinseki said. “I will not defend it, because it is indefensible.”

Even before his meeting with the president, the secretary’s tone shifted dramatically compared with his testimony before a congressional committee earlier this month, when he continued to defend the VA system. On Friday, citing the IG report, he lamented a “totally unacceptable lack of integrity” at numerous VA facilities – where reviews have found workers were manipulating wait times to make their internal figures look good.

Shinseki said the “lack of integrity” is something he has “rarely encountered.” He announced several steps to address the situation, including directing that patient wait times no longer be used as a measure of success in employee evaluations.

The internal audit reviewed by Obama on Friday outlined additional problems, including findings that VA staff were pressured to use improper practices. The report said in some cases, “pressures were placed on schedulers to utilize inappropriate practices in order to make Waiting Times appear more favorable.”

The report said the practices were “pervasive” enough to “require VA re-examine its entire Performance Management system.”

Click HERE For Rest Of Story

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Your Daley Gator VA Scandal News Update (Videos)

‘Veterans Died! Get Us The Answers!’: Republicans Boil Over As Veterans Affairs Officials Answer Subpoenas With Excuses And Blank Stares – Daily Mail

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Sparks flew during a rare late-night hearing before the House Veterans Affairs Committee, as visibly upset Republicans raked VA officials over the coals while the ink was still wet on a scathing inspector general report condemning the agency’s deadly failures.

The report found that in Phoenix, Arizona alone, 1,700 U.S. military veterans were denied medical care and others waited an average of 115 days to be seen by a doctor – and that officials covered up the lapses by manipulating wait-lists and other official records.

Tennessee Republican Rep. Phil Roe, a physician and veteran of the Army Medical Corps, summed up the mood on Capitol Hill when he addressed Dr. Thomas Lynch, the VA’s assistant deputy undersecretary for health.

Noting that the three officials at the witness table are well-paid but presided over a system that ignored the needs of cash-strapped veterans who are locked into the VA health system, he leveled a sledgehammer at Lynch

‘What I don’t understand is, as a veteran – as a doctor, as a practitioner – I don’t understand how you can stand at a mirror and look at yourself in the mirror, and shave in the morning, and not throw up,’ he said, ‘knowing that you’ve got people out there… how in the world?’

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‘I see some of these people out there. They live in my communities, and they can’t get in, and they’re desperate to get in,’ howled an incredulous Roe. ‘And someone who’s making $180,000 a year gets a bonus for not taking care of the veterans? I don’t get that.’

Rep. Jeff Miller, a Florida Republican who chairs the panel, wasted no time in going after VA Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Legislative Affairs Joan Mooney.

‘Until VA understands that we’re deadly serious, you can expect us to be over your shoulder every single day,’ he told her.

And then ‘deadly serious’ became, literally, deadly.

‘Why have you not told this committee yet who was disciplined in Augusta, Georgia and Columbia, South Carolina, where nine veterans died because they were on a waiting list for colonoscopies?’ Miller asked.

Mooney deflected the question, saying that her office had ‘responded to more than 100,000 requests for information,’ but Miller was unimpressed.

‘Ma’am! Ma’am! Ma’am! Ma’am!’ he exclaimed. ‘Veterans died! Get us the answers, please!’

‘I understand that, Mr. Chairman,’ Mooney replied, and I will look -‘

‘That’s what you said three months ago!’ Miller boomed. ‘This has been going on since January. Since January.’

‘In case you don’t know it, we put on our website every week what we ask for,’ he said, ‘and nothing changes from week to week.’

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Miller aired a laundry list of complaints about the VA’s response to congressional demands, including the agency’s refusal to brief members of Congress.

‘We did ask the [VA] Office of General Counsel to come brief members last week, and the general counsel declined,’ the Floridian said. ‘He said he declined because he didn’t want to brief the members – he wanted to brief the staff.’

‘It takes repeated requests and threats of compulsion to get VA to bring their people here,’ a disgusted Miller concluded.

Mooney got he worst of it.

As she referred to prepared notes in order to answer questions, an outraged Miller lost patience. ‘Can you say anything without reading your prepared notes?’ he demanded?

The VA has reportedly provided the committee with 5,500 pages of documents, but lawmakers are convinced there’s much more to be found.

‘Let me be clear: I am not happy,’ said Maine Rep. Michael Michaud, the committee’s ranking Democrat.

‘We’ll get to the bottom of this, uncover the truth, and ensure a solution is implemented to make sure something like this never happens again.’

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Roe was more pointed.

‘If you don’t give us the information,’ he said, ‘I’m thinking, “There’s something they’re trying to hide.” Why wouldn’t you just turn over the documents, and – they are what they are. Just tell the truth.’

‘Is there a reason? …In my mind, I’m thinking right now that you’re hiding something from me. And I have no reason to believe you’re not,’ he said.

The three VA witnesses were not permitted to offer an opening statement. A Veterans Affairs Committee staff member told MailOnline that there was some internal debate about that decision.

‘I guess if they had something to tell us, they should have told us years ago. That was the thinking.’

Questions arose about how and why documents related to the Phoenix cover-up were destroyed – especially off-the-books waiting lists that showed a realistic picture of how long veterans waited for their doctor visits.

On Wednesday at least 58 members of Congress, including 20 Democrats, demanded VA Secretary Eric Shinseki’s resignation, with Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain leading the charge and calling on President Barack Obama to fire him if he didn’t step down.

Colorado Republican Rep. Mike Coffman added to the bloodletting in the evening, demanding the termination of all three witnesses: Lynch, Mooney, and Michael Huff, a VA congressional relations officer.

‘You are not being forthright in your testimony,’ Coffman boomed. ‘You are here to serve yourselves and not the men and women who have made extraordinary sacrifices to serve this country.’

Click HERE For Rest Of Story

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ENTIRE HOUSE VETERANS’ AFFAIRS COMMITTEE HEARING (05/28/14)

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While Vets Wait, VA Employees Do Union Work – National Review

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs paid at least $11.4 million to 174 nurses, mental-health specialists, therapists, and other health-care professionals who, instead of caring for veterans, worked full-time doing union business.

The list of these taxpayer-funded union representatives at VA offices around the nation and their salaries was obtained through the Freedom of Information Act by Georgia representative Phil Gingrey’s staff and provided to National Review Online.

“So many health-care providers were on that list – nurses or physical therapists or whatever they may be – when so many veterans are falling through the cracks,” a Gingrey aide tells me. “It’s kind of shocking that these paid employees wouldn’t be fully dedicated to patient care.”

In total, the VA spent at least $13.77 million on 251 salaried employees performing full-time union work. Others, who were not included on the list provided by the VA, work part-time for unions at the taxpayer expense. In fiscal year 2011, the latest on record, the VA used 998,483 hours of this “official time,” costing taxpayers more than $42 million.

The newly released records show that in Baltimore, which has the nation’s longest wait times for veterans’ claims, taxpayers covered $372,674 in salary costs in 2012 for a clinical dietetic technician, a patient-services assistant, a health technician, a medical-support assistant, and two nurses to spend all their time at work on union issues and none of it working with veterans.

In Columbia, S.C., the VA pays one health technician a $40,706 salary to work for the American Federation of Government Employees.

At that same location, CNN reported in January, a 44-year-old veteran named Barry Coates was forced to wait a year for a colonoscopy, despite intense pain, constipation, and rectal bleeding. When Coates finally got his appointment, doctors found a tumor the size of a baseball – Stage 4 colorectal cancer that had metastasized elsewhere.

Testifying on the Hill in April, Coates described his constant pain and suffering. “I am totally and permanently impotent as well as incontinent,” he said. “It is likely too late for me. The gross negligence of my ongoing problems and crippling back log epidemic of the VA medical system has not only handed me a death sentence but ruined the quality of my life I have for the meantime.”

At the Phoenix VA system, where CNN has reported that at least 40 veterans died waiting for appointments, taxpayers cover the costs of a practical nurse (salary: $54,014) and a medical-administration specialist (salary: $59,849), neither of whom work with veterans. There, as many as 1,600 sick veterans faced months-long waits to see a physician, according to CNN.

In Boston, the VA paid a cumulative annual salary of $587,112 in 2012 to six nurses who, instead of treating patients, work for unions.

Employees across the federal government are paid full-time or part-time to perform work for their various unions, but perhaps nowhere is the practice more offensive than the overburdened VA.

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VA Awarded $3M In Prizes In Appointment Scheduling App Contest In 2013 – Weekly Standard

In October 2013, as the nation was focused on the deeply flawed rollout of the Healthcare.gov Obamacare marketplace, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) awarded $3 million in prizes to three participants in the agency’s Medical Appointment Scheduling Contest. The contest was announced in 2012 to help the VA make the move to a more modern and flexible scheduling system:

VA’s current Medical Scheduling Package (MSP) is a component of VistA; it’s legacy electronic health record (EHR) system. The MSP not only makes appointments for clinicians, but also captures data that allows VA to measure, manage, and improve efficiency and access to care. However, VA’s current MSP is more than 25 years old. It neither meets current requirements, nor does it provide the flexibility needed to adapt for future needs[.]

A press release from the contest winner MedRed noted that the:

VA started to develop a Medical Scheduling Package replacement in 2000. This effort was not successful. When VA ended the project in 2009, none of the planned capabilities were delivered. It had cost more than $127 million.

The prize-winning app, Health e-Time, was developed in about two and a half months according to MedRed’s CEO William Smith, and was actually a collaboration between MedRed, telecom company BT and the VISTA Expertise Network, who will all split a $1.8 million first prize.

According to GovernmentHealthIT, the Health e-Time application “offers veterans the ability to schedule visits online across VA locations and gives VA providers the ability to share appointments with veterans’ personal digital calendars and with other non-VA providers.”

Just this past week, CalConnect, a calendering and scheduling consortium, held a “Workshop on VA Scheduling System” at its conference in Dulles, Virginia, and William Smith of MedRed addressed attendees about the contest and his company’s winning entry Health e-Time. Smith has previously described Health e-Time as “an open-source solution that could seamlessly integrate with VistA, the VA’s Electronic Health Record system.”

Second and third place prizes were awarded for the contest as well, earning $705,000 and $512,000 respectively. There were a total of forty-one entries submitted.

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Your Daley Gator The-Federal-Government-Is-Run-By-Incompetent-Douchebags VA Scandal Update (Video)

7 Warnings Obama Ignored On The VA… Including His Own – Big Government

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On Tuesday, the Washington Post revealed a memorandum dated April 26, 2010, sent from the Deputy Undersecretary for Health for Operations and Management (10N) to Network Director (10N1-23). That memo spelled out 17 methods being used by VA hospitals to cover up long wait times. Those tactics included:

* Telling veterans to call back after 30 days so that they would not appear in the records as having waited longer than 30 days;
* Use of a manual logging system;
* Creation and cancellation of new patient visits, marking those cancellations as “cancelled by patient” rather than “cancelled by clinic.”

The list goes on and on.

The White House claimed that it was utterly unaware of the memo, although Dr. Robert Petzel, the top health official at the Veterans Administration, admitted, “It’s absolutely inexcusable.”

So, what did the Obama administration know and when did it know it?

It knew, according to a 2008 briefing memo from the Department of Veterans Affairs, that the waiting times reported from the VA were not reliable: “This is not only a data integrity issue in which [Veterans Health Administration] reports unreliable performance data; it affects quality of care by delaying – and potentially denying – deserving veterans timely care.” Such problems, the document stated, “are systemic throughout the VHA.”

In 2007, then-Senator Obama, running for president, acknowledged massive problems within the VA. “No veteran should have to fill out a 23-page claim to get care, or wait months – even years – to get an appointment at the VA,” he told the Veterans of Foreign Wars. He continued:

When we fail to keep faith with our veterans, the bond between our nation and our nation’s heroes becomes frayed. When a veteran is denied care, we are all dishonored. It’s not enough to lay a wreath on Memorial Day, or to pay tribute to our veterans in speeches. A proud and grateful nation owes more than ceremonial gestures and kind words.

Caring for those who serve – and for their families – is a fundamental responsibility of the Commander-in-Chief.

He concluded, “The VA will also be at the cutting edge of my plan for universal health care.”

But Obama now claims that he was only informed of bureaucratic snafus from the newspapers. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney stated that the Phoenix falsifications of wait lists were news to Obama:

We learned about them through the reports. I will double check if that is not the case. But that is when we learned about them and that is when I understand Secretary Shinseki learned about them, and he immediately took the action that he has taken.

Apparently he was reading the wrong newspapers. Problems with veteran wait times have been heavily covered by the media for years. In 2010, the Los Angeles Times wrote:

Some veterans wait up to six months to get their initial VA medical appointment. The typical veteran of the Iraq or Afghanistan wars waits 110 days for a disability claim to be processed, with a few waiting up to a year. For all veterans, the average wait is 161 days. The VA says a ruling on an appeal of a disability rating takes more than 600 days on average. The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, or IAVA, an advocacy group, says the average delay is 776 days. Up to 17% of veterans’ disability ratings are incorrect, the VA says. Thousands of dollars in disability payments hinge on the ratings, which are determined by the VA. The agency says it hopes to eventually cut the error rate to 2%.

In February 2013, lawmakers accused the VA of covering up five veteran deaths from Legionnaires’ disease, with Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) stating, “This has got the federal government’s footprints all over it. I am stunned at the coordination that took place and that is occurring at the highest levels of government to try and counter the blame.” The VA originally claimed that a minor Legionnaires’ outbreak had killed no one.

In March 2013, a whistleblower told the Daily Beast that the VA “routinely disseminated false information about the health of America’s veterans, withheld research showing a link between nerve gas and Gulf War syndrome, rushed studies out the door without taking recommended fixes by an independent board, and failed to offer crucial care to veterans who came forward as suicidal.” The whistleblower said that his bosses responded by attempting to intimidate and silence him, and that he was even admonished. He said that almost 2,000 suicidal veterans did not receive proper follow-up.

In November 2013, CNN reported:

Military veterans are dying needlessly because of long waits and delayed care at U.S. veterans hospitals… Military veterans are dying needlessly because of long waits and delayed care at U.S. veterans hospitals, a CNN investigation has found. What’s worse, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is aware of the problems and has done almost nothing to effectively prevent veterans dying from delays in care.”

CNN reported at least six patient deaths at just one facility. Money was even given to the VA to fix the problem. It wasn’t fixed. Debra Draper at the Government Accountability Office explained, “Long wait times and a weak scheduling policy and process have been persistent problems for the VA, and both the GAO and the VA’s (inspector general) have been reporting on these issues for more than a decade.”

So, what did President Obama know, and when did he know it? He knew plenty. And he had plenty of time to do something about it. He just didn’t. And crocodile tears now come too little too late.

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Senate Democrats Just Blocked A Bill To Increase Accountability At The Scandal-Plagued Veterans Affairs Department – Washington Free Beacon

This actually happened on the Senate floor this afternoon. Senator Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) asked for consent to take up and pass the Veterans Affairs Management Accountability Act, a bill that would make it easier/possible for the scandal-plagued department to fire employees based on poor performance. The House overwhelmingly passed the legislation on Wednesday, with a bipartisan vote of 390 to 33. (Only Democrats objected.)

Surely the Senate would follow suit, right? Not exactly. Senator Bernie Sanders, a union-backed socialist from Vermont, objected on behalf of Senate Democrats to Rubio’s request. Instead of taking any action now, Sanders said he is going to hold a hearing – several weeks from now.

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Sanders, who chairs the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, has been one of the most outspoken defenders of the VA against allegations of misconduct. When asked about reports of multiple deaths related to long wait times at the VA healthcare system, Sanders told CNN: “People die every day.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) on Thursday offered a lukewarm assessment of the House-passed legislation, describing it as “not unreasonable.”

House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) was not happy. “As we head into the Memorial Day weekend, I am disappointed, and – frankly – shocked that Senate Democratic leaders chose to block legislation that would hold VA managers accountable,” Boehner said in a statement. “As we head home to honor the men and women who have sacrificed so much for our freedom, it’s fair to ask why Senate Democrats won’t stand up for more accountability?”

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Your Daley Gator Obama-Is-An-Incompetent-Asshat VA Scandal Update (Videos)

VA Investigations Now Involve 26 Facilities, Says Inspector General – Christian Science Monitor

The number of VA facilities under investigation after complaints about falsified records and treatment delays has more than doubled in recent days, the Office of Inspector General at the Veterans Affairs Department said late Tuesday.

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A spokeswoman for the IG’s office said 26 facilities were being investigated nationwide. Acting Inspector General Richard Griffin told a Senate committee last week that at least 10 new allegations about manipulated waiting times and other problems had surfaced since reports of problems at the Phoenix VA hospital came to light last month.

The expanded investigations come as President Barack Obama’s choice to help carry out reforms at the Veterans Affairs Department was set to travel to Phoenix to meet with staff at the local VA office amid mounting pressure to overhaul the beleaguered agency.

Obama announced last week that White House Deputy Chief of Staff Rob Nabors would be assigned to the VA after allegations of delayed care that may have led to patient deaths and a cover-up by top administrators in Phoenix. Similar claims have been reported at VA facilities in Pennsylvania, Wyoming, Georgia, Missouri, Texas, Florida, and elsewhere.

Nabors met Tuesday in Washington with representatives of several veterans’ organizations, including the American Legion and Disabled American Veterans, among others. He will meet Thursday with leadership at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Medical Center, including with interim director Steve Young, White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

Young took over in Phoenix after director Sharon Helman was placed on leave indefinitely while the VA’s Office of Inspector General investigates claims raised by several former VA employees that Phoenix administrators kept a secret list of patients waiting for appointments to hide delays in care.

Critics say Helman was motivated to conceal delays to collect a bonus of about $9,000 last year.

A former clinic director for the VA in Phoenix first came out publicly with the allegations of secret lists in April. Dr. Samuel Foote, who retired in December after nearly 25 years with the VA, says that up to 40 veterans may have died while awaiting treatment at the Phoenix hospital. Investigators say they have so far not linked any patient deaths in Phoenix to delayed care.

The allegations have sparked a firestorm on Capitol Hill and some calls for VA Secretary Eric Shinseki’s resignation. The VA’s undersecretary for health care, Robert Petzel, has since stepped down.

However, Republicans denounced the move as a hollow gesture, since Petzel had already been scheduled to retire soon. And several lawmakers are proposing legislation to take on VA problems.

Republican Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas, a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, told The Associated Press on Tuesday he plans to introduce legislation this week to ensure that internal probes by the VA’s Office of Medical Inspector are released to Congress and the public “so the full scope of the VA’s dysfunction cannot be disguised.”

Moran noted that a VA nurse in Cheyenne, Wyoming, was put on leave this month for allegedly telling employees to falsify appointment records. The action came after an email about possible wait-list manipulation at the Cheyenne hospital was leaked to the media.

But Moran said the Cheyenne center was already the subject of a December 2013 report by Office of the Medical Inspector. That report apparently substantiated claims of improper scheduling practices, but it’s unclear if action taken at the Cheyenne center was based on the medical inspector’s findings, Moran said.

“Because OMI reports are not available to the public and have not been previously released to Congress, it is impossible to know whether the VA has taken action to implement the OMI’s recommendations for improvement in each case,” Moran said.

Meanwhile, two Republican senators introduced legislation to prohibit payment of bonuses to employees at the Veterans Health Administration through next year. Sens. Richard Burr of North Carolina and Deb Fischer of Nebraska said the VA should focus its spending on fixing problems at the agency, “not rewarding employees entrenched in a failing bureaucracy.” Burr is the senior Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee and Fischer is a panel member.

The House passed a bill in February eliminating performance bonuses for the department’s senior executive staff through 2018.

Texas Sen. John Cornyn, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, also called on Obama to back off plans to nominate Jeffrey Murawsky to replace Petzel at the VA. Murawsky, a career VA administrator, directly supervised Helman from 2010 to 2012.

The White House has said Obama remains confident in Shinseki’s leadership and is standing behind Murawsky’s nomination.

Shinseki and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel met with the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday to discuss how the two departments can improve interactions between their health records systems. The two Cabinet members said in a joint statement that the meeting was productive and that both men share the same goal – to improve health outcomes of active duty military, veterans and beneficiaries.

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Roy Blunt Goes Off On Obama Admin For Failing To Take Responsibility Amid Scandals – Washington Free Beacon

Sen. Roy Blunt (R., Mo.) issued a blistering condemnation of the Obama administration for their handling of various scandals Wednesday in a statement to the press.

Blunt said there seems to be an endemic aversion at the White House to take responsibility for any of the scandals currently facing the administration. The Missouri senator listed the VA scandal, Serco Obamacare workers apparently being paid to do nothing, and the State Department’s obliviousness to the case of Meriam Ibrahim as instances where the Obama administration is simply failing to take responsibility.

Blunt was particularly apoplectic about the State Department being unaware of his letter concerning Ibrahim despite having it for four days. “This is a woman, one of her sentences in Sudan is to be flogged for marrying a non-Muslim. And the second after they flog her is to hang her for refusing to renounce her Christian faith,” he said.

“We don’t seem to be concerned about that. She and her toddler son are in a prison cell right now waiting for the baby to be born so the mother can be killed. And nobody in our government appears to want to say anything about it.”

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FLASHBACK 2009: Veterans Groups Blast Obama Plan For Private Insurance To Pay For Service-Related Health Care – Fox News

President Obama’s plan to require private insurance carriers to reimburse the Department of Veterans Affairs for the treatment of troops injured in service has infuriated veterans groups who say the government is morally obligated to pay for service-related medical care.

Calling it a “desperate search for money at any cost,” Craig Roberts, media relations manager for the American Legion, told FOXNews.com on Tuesday that the president will “wish away so much political capital on this issue” if he continues to insist on private coverage for service-related injuries.

Cmdr. David K. Rehbein of the American Legion, the nation’s largest veterans group, called the president’s plan to raise $540 million from private insurers unreasonable, unworkable and immoral.

“This reimbursement plan would be inconsistent with the mandate ‘to care for him who shall have borne the battle,’ given that the United States government sent members of the Armed Forces into harm’s way, and not private insurance companies,” Rehbein said late Monday after a meeting with the president and administration officials at the Veterans Affairs Department.

“I say again that The American Legion does not and will not support any plan that seeks to bill a veteran for treatment of a service-connected disability at the very agency that was created to treat the unique need of America’s veterans,” Rehbein said.

Roberts said that 11 veterans service organizations were told to come up with another plan if they didn’t like this one. The groups met on Monday with Obama, Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki and Office of Management and Budget defense spending chief Steven Kosiak.

“What we’ve been tasked with now is to raise this money through alternative means and we’re supposed to have a conference call in two or three days… with Rahm Emanuel. So the implication was… you guys come up with a better idea or this is what’s going to happen,” Roberts said.

A summary of the proposed budget says the president wants to increase funding for VA by $25 billion over five years, and bring more than 500,000 eligible veterans of modest income into the VA health care system by 2013.

However, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Tuesday that no plans have been enumerated yet about veterans health care.

“Let me not make the case for a decision that this administration hasn’t made yet regarding the final disposition or decision on third-party billing as it relates to service-related injuries,” he said.

“The veteran service organizations… can have confidence that the budget the president has proposed represents an historic increase in discretionary spending to take care of our wounded warriors, those that have been sent off to war, have protected our freedom, and have come back wounded,” Gibbs continued.

But Roberts said the president’s plan would increase premiums, make insurance unaffordable for veterans and impose a massive hardship on military families. It could also prevent small businesses from hiring veterans who have large health care needs, he said.

“The president’s avowed purpose in doing this is to, quote, ‘make the insurance companies pay their fair share,'” Roberts said. “It’s not the Blue Cross that puts soldiers in harm’s way, it’s the federal government.”

Roberts said that the American Legion would like the existing system to remain in place. Service-related injuries currently are treated and paid for by the government. The American Legion has proposed that Medicare reimburse the VA for the treatment of veterans.

He added that the argument about the government’s moral obligation to treat wounded soldiers, sailors and Marines fell on deaf ears during the meeting.

“The president deflected any discussion when it got into any moral issue here,” he said. “Any attempt to direct the conversation (to the moral discussion) was immediately deflected.”

Private insurance is separate for troops who need health care unrelated to their service. But Roberts noted that if a wounded warrior comes back and needs ongoing treatment, he or she could run up “to the max of the coverage in very short order,” leaving his family with nothing

Roberts added that how the plan would raise $540 million “is a great mystery and it seems to be an arbitrary number… The commander said it seemed like this phantom number.”

Monday’s meeting was preceded by a letter of protest earlier this month signed by Rehbein and the heads of 10 service organizations. It read that “there is simply no logical explanation” for the plan to bill veterans’ personal insurance “for care that the VA has a responsibility to provide.”

The letter called it “unconscionable” to shift the burden of the country’s “fiscal problems on the men and women who have already sacrificed a great deal for this country.” Rehbein testified to both the House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committees on those same points last week

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Obama is MAD AS HELL, and He is Not Going to……..

…. do the first damned thing about the VA scandal. He is just back in campaign mode, where he tells the low IQ voters how awful this is, and how HE is going to fight to right the ship, blah, blah, blah

First it was Benghazi, then it was the IRS, and now it’s the VA. Ace of Spades describes the Obama Scandal Reaction Method:

Always he says the same things:
1. He’s “mad. Or “angry.” Or “madder than hell.” Or even “apopleptic.” Obama vows he’s much, much angrier than you are – “no one is angrier than I am” — despite having no appearances of actual anger. Rather like a very controlled, uptight WASP Hulk.
2. He vows to “get to the bottom of this.” He says this in a way to suggest that he, personally, will be getting to the bottom of this. Of course he doesn’t. Within a week he’s playing golf and parcheesi with the White House motor pool.
3. Despite pronouncing this newest scandal extraordinary, he then demands that we… allow the routine, ordinary Bureaucratic Process to fix everything.
“Putting something in the process” is standard Bureaucratic jargon meaning that “nothing is being done and go f*** yourself raw.”

….Blah, blah, blah, wash, rinse, repeat………….

VA Employees Destroyed Veterans’ Medical Records To Cancel Backlogged Exam Requests (Audio)

Department Of Veterans Affairs Employees Destroyed Veterans’ Medical Records To Cancel Backlogged Exam Requests – Daily Caller

Employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) destroyed veterans’ medical files in a systematic attempt to eliminate backlogged veteran medical exam requests, a former VA employee told The Daily Caller.

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Audio of an internal VA meeting obtained by TheDC confirms that VA officials in Los Angeles intentionally canceled backlogged patient exam requests.

“The committee was called System Redesign and the purpose of the meeting was to figure out ways to correct the department’s efficiency. And one of the issues at the time was the backlog,” Oliver Mitchell, a Marine veteran and former patient services assistant in the VA Greater Los Angeles Medical Center, told TheDC.

“We just didn’t have the resources to conduct all of those exams. Basically we would get about 3,000 requests a month for [medical] exams, but in a 30-day period we only had the resources to do about 800. That rolls over to the next month and creates a backlog,” Mitchell said. ”It’s a numbers thing. The waiting list counts against the hospitals efficiency. The longer the veteran waits for an exam that counts against the hospital as far as productivity is concerned.”

By 2008, some patients were “waiting six to nine months for an exam” and VA “didn’t know how to address the issue,” Mitchell said.

VA Greater Los Angeles Radiology department chief Dr. Suzie El-Saden initiated an “ongoing discussion in the department” to cancel exam requests and destroy veterans’ medical files so that no record of the exam requests would exist, thus reducing the backlog, Mitchell said.

Audio from a November 2008 meeting obtained by TheDC depicts VA Greater Los Angeles officials plotting to cancel backlogged exam requests.

“I’m still canceling orders from 2001,” said a male official in the meeting.

“Anything over a year old should be canceled,” replied a female official.

“Canceled or scheduled?” asked the male official.

“Canceled… Your backlog should start at April ’07,” the female official replied, later adding, ”a lot of those patients either had their studies somewhere else, had their surgery… died, don’t live in the state… It’s ridiculous.”

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El-Saden, according to Mitchell, was “the person who said destroy the records.” And her plan was actually carried out during the Obama administration’s management of VA.

“That actually happened,” Mitchell said. “We had that discussion in November 2008 and then in March 2009 they started to delete the exams. Once you cancel or delete an order it automatically cancels out that record” so that no record of the exam requests remained.

Mitchell tried to blow the whistle on the scheme and ended up being transferred out of his department and eventually losing his job.

“I actually filed a complaint with the VA [Inspector General] IG and the office of special counsel. The IG requested if I had any documentation. They wanted names. I gave them [about] a thousand names,” Mitchell said. ”The list I turned into the IG went all the way back to 1997.”

“I filed the initial complaint with the IG… The IG instead of doing their own investigation just gave it to the facility and made them aware of my complaint.”

Mitchell eventually wrote to Congress about the issue in January 2011. Two months later, in March 2011, he was fired.

Mitchell received an April 30, 2013 letter from the U.S. Office of Special Counsel stating that OIG found in November 2009 that “all imaging services across the country were instructed to mass purge all outstanding imaging orders for studies older than six months, where the procedure was no longer needed” and that “patient imaging requests found to still be valid were scheduled… Approval was granted for this process by the MEC [Medical Executive Committee], and in collaboration with the Service Chiefs and/or Careline Directors within the health-care system.”

But Mitchell said that in Los Angeles, exam requests that were found to still be needed were “definitely” destroyed.

“The IG’s report said this was a nationwide issue, but I know when we were having our meeting we weren’t talking nationwide – we were talking about our department,” Mitchell said.

“It is the general policy of OSC not to transmit an allegation of wrongdoing to the head of the agency involved, where the agency’s OIG or its delegate, is currently investigating or has investigated, the same allegations. Consequently, this office will take no further action concerning this allegation,” according to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel letter.

“That was an excuse” and part of a “cover-up,” Mitchell said.

“I’ve actually filed a lawsuit against them” for wrongful termination and another complaint, Mitchell said. “I filed it in district court in August of last year. It was accepted in September. The court dismissed it and wants me to amend the complaint with additional facts. I’m turning that in this week.”

VA did not return repeated requests for comment. The VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System did not return a request for comment and for an interview with Dr. El-Saden.

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