Replacing head of VA is like rearranging deck chairs

So, Sen. Dean Heller has joined the chorus of calls for ousting VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, saying:

“The Department of Veterans Affairs Inspector General’s report provides a very disturbing view of what has been confirmed as a systemic problem at the VA. Poor management must not be allowed to stand in the way of providing quality care for veterans in Nevada and across the country. I have great respect for Secretary Shinseki’s service to our nation and the sacrifices he has made, but the problems within the Department for which he is responsible cannot be ignored. It is time for a leadership change at the VA at the highest level.”

Replacing the captain of a sinking rust bucket still leaves you with a sinking rust bucket.

That OIG report does appear to show “systemic” problems with the VA. “Allegations at the Phoenix HCS health care system) include gross mismanagement of VA resources and criminal misconduct by VA senior hospital leadership, creating systemic patient safety issues and possible wrongful deaths,” concludes the executive summary.

“To date, we have ongoing or scheduled work at 42 VA medical facilities and have identified instances of manipulation of VA data that distort the legitimacy of reported waiting times,” the report also says. That’s up from the previously reported 26.

The VA is pure socialized medicine. No happen who you put in charge it will fail eventually, as it has done so over and over again between brief periods of improvement after one crisis or another.

Back in the 1980s the crisis was heart surgery. While investigating cardiac surgery deaths, it was found that there were “errors in operative technique” in 38 percent of cases.

In 2007, The Washington Post reported on shoddy treatment and conditions at Walter Reed Military Hospital. Though it is military and not VA, it too is socialized medicine on display. One story reported:

“While the hospital is a place of scrubbed-down order and daily miracles, with medical advances saving more soldiers than ever, the outpatients in the Other Walter Reed encounter a messy bureaucratic battlefield nearly as chaotic as the real battlefields they faced overseas.

“On the worst days, soldiers say they feel like they are living a chapter of ‘Catch-22.’ The wounded manage other wounded. Soldiers dealing with psychological disorders of their own have been put in charge of others at risk of suicide.”

In 1945 the head of the VA hospital system resigned after a series of news reports about shoddy treatment.

In 1986 the OIG found 93 VA physicians had sanctions against their medical licenses, including suspensions and revocations.

Today the problem in the Phoenix VA hospital is that 1,700 veterans were waiting for their first primary care appointment but were not on the electronic waiting list. The bureaucrats were cooking the books in order make themselves eligible for “awards and salary increases.”

The inspector reports:

“To review the new patient wait times for primary care in FY 2013, we reviewed a statistical sample of 226 Phoenix HCS (health care system) appointments. VA national data, which was reported by Phoenix HCS, showed these 226 veterans waited on average 24 days for their first primary care appointment and only 43 percent waited more than 14 days. However, our review showed these 226 veterans waited on average 115 days for their first primary care appointment with approximately 84 percent waiting more than 14 days. At this time, we believe that most of the waiting time discrepancies occurred because of delays between the veteran’s requested appointment date and the date the appointment was created. However, we found that in at least 25 percent of the 226 appointments reviewed, evidence, in veterans’ medical records, indicates that these veterans received some level of care in the Phoenix HCS, such as treatment in the emergency room, walk in clinics, or mental health clinics.”

It is time to dismantle the VA health care system and just give veterans vouchers to use wherever they wish.


19 comments on “Replacing head of VA is like rearranging deck chairs

  1. nyp says:

    Anyone else agree with Mr. Mitchell that the VA health care system should be killed and replaced with a voucher system?

  2. Athos says:

    Only way it will work, petey. Voucher system, or just the same Primo Health Care afforded to our Congress critters and President.

    It’s a shame Dean Heller won’t make the obvious connection to the disaster that is PinocchioCare.

    Connect the dots for the 47%, Dean! Don’t miss this “teaching moment”.

  3. nyp says:

    Wait — I thought that giving people vouchers so that they could buy private health insurance was what ObamaCare was all about? You are proposing to replace the VA healthcare system with ObamaCare??

  4. Steve says:

    Socialism = crisis management.
    Crisis management has become the norm for our federal government behemoth.

    never let a serious crisis go to waste!

    Isn’t it an election year for Oligarchy of the USA?

  5. Nyp says:

    No idea what you are talking about

  6. Athos says:

    Let us see if you can guess what great statesman said this, petey:

    “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice ? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”

  7. Athos says:

    And the answer to your earlier query is a definitive NO. PinocchoCare is not the solution to our veterans’ woes.

    Pinoccho Care is the shackles being placed on what remains of our free people.

    86 million private sector workers carrying 146 million other Americans, legal and not so legal.

    It’s a simple math problem, isn’t it?

  8. Guessed right on quote first time.

  9. nyp says:

    1. The quote is from Washington’s farewell address. I happen to disagree with it. Washington was wrong.

    2. It is increasingly clear to me that what Mr. Mitchell is proposing to do is replace the VA healthcare system with ObamaCare. He wants to kill all the VA hospitals, but thinks the government should give vets a “voucher” with which to purchase health insurance. I find it truely encouraging that Mr. Mitchell would see the error of his past opinions and would not advocate the application of an ObamaCare system for vets.

  10. Steve says:

    Obamacare for public school choice is a good idea too!

    Abolish the public education/indoctrination camps and give vouchers to all parents to use at the schools of their choice!

    Nyps idea is GREAT!

  11. Winston Smith says:

    Petey disagrees with the Father of our Country? I’m shocked,..shocked!

  12. Vernon Clayson says:

    Is nyp a veteran, has he been disconcerted by the VA, or is his interest his usual liberal high minded backing of all things Obama, perhaps his empathy is akin to Obama’s, not being a veteran but being vexed by the VA. The VA does more than health care, does anyone believe we will hear dreadful stories about waiting and dying while sighing up for education benefits, it was a long time ago for me but it came like clockwork. I’ve not called the VA for health care but I’m told the first thing said is “if you have an emergency call 911” which brings civil/civilian source ambulances and EMTs, not VA personnel. The most recent figure I’ve seen is there are around 23 million veterans and my understanding is there are levels of care that amounts to a triage, I’d have to know a lot more about those waiting for care as all 23 million aren’t urgent cases, and how many actually use the service? Serious military related injuries and conditions should come first, those with colds, etc., should expect to wait. I do resent that some hospitals -allegedly- have two lists of patients awaiting appointments and care but who the hell do they show the lists to? Does the fake one look so authentic that government accountants accept it, “Yep, this looks good, see you next month.” I also resent that politicians tell us the health care of 300 million + people will run smoothly and cheaply when they can’t keep up with a small proportion of 23 million veterans, and the Medicare and Medicaid programs are looking at financial failure. It’s all political BS and politicians covering their behinds.

  13. nyp says:

    Interestingly, I see that Joe Heck is no longer promising to repeal ObamaCare — only to “fix” parts of it.

    That is a welcome retreat.

  14. Jan Graham says:

    Thomas, I do not understand how the VA got this way. All other hospitals are inspected either by JACHO or CMS (done by the state Health Department) and have to meet certain conditions of participation. From what I have seen in the VA there is no one watching or they are turning a blind eye. There are procedures for monitoring physicians and poorly performing physicians in any other hospital would have their credentials removed from that facility. I have seen deplorable conditions in Walter Reed Hospital, which in any other hospital would be closed. Doors locked until conditions were corrected. Maybe the VA needs to outsource management to people who know how to run hospitals. Jan

  15. Steve says:

    The first time the President actually decides to ask for and accept the resignation of a cabinet level secretary, it has to be with one I do not agree should have happened.

    In the case of the VA, the people who should have lost their jobs are those very people who actually gamed that system for personal gain at the expense of real service to the people they are charged with providing for. The bureaucrats in charge of the middle managers should also have had their positions chopped. Fixing bureaucratic problems means digging into and chopping away at the “invisible” middle where the problems are allowed to fester and spread.

    In this case the President, by cutting off the head of the beast, has actually ensured the beast survives and grows even stronger.

  16. The cycle continues.

  17. Vernon Clayson says:

    Liberals like nyp, at least those with consciences, must have mixed feeling, while they hope and pray for government controlled healthcare for all they must see this brand of government controlled healthcare is deplorable, insufficient numbers of doctors does cause rationing of their services, something they deny will happen with the laughably called ‘Affordable’ Healthcare, AKA Obamacare. There’s nothing wrong with nurse practitioners treating the sniffles and such minor conditions, every veteran coming through the door isn’t a life and death matter, neither is the parade of uninsured, even insured, people going to civilian hospitals for common conditions, e.g.. However shitty one might feel with a cold, colds pass. Every person that enters a hospital or clinic can’t expect to see a doctor immediately, there’s evaluation and preparation of patients before the doctor sees them, it’s the same with the VA. Things may not be perfect at the VA but there are so many success stories with terribly wounded veterans one shouldn’t be too quick to criticize. Shinseki is the director of the organization and has been for six years, his every day has been involvement with the VA, Obama came to this game late, his involvement took what part of any day until the crap hit the fan? How did he ever focus on a chip shot or putt with that VA burden pressing down? That’s a joke, a bad joke, but not as bad as photos of him smiling, smiling, smiling, while under the cloud of one scandal after another.

  18. Rincon says:

    Cherry picking data is easy. Here’s an article showing that your chances of dying as a patient with a heart attack or pneumonia are double or more for patients in the worst hospitals than those in the best ones

    So if your chances of dying are twice as great in one hospital as another, does that mean that private enterprise medicine isn’t working? Gee whiz, whose cherry picked data should we believe?

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