VA Secretary David Shulkin, according to an IG report, has been misappropriating VA funds for his and his family’s personal benefit, and he’s been abusing his authority to require a subordinate to act as his “personal travel concierge.” He
improperly accepted a gift of Wimbledon tennis tickets….
And his Chief of Staff, Vivieca Wright Simpson, apparently tampered with evidence:
made false claims to a VA ethics official by altering an email to get official approval for Dr Shulkin’s wife to take part in the trip as an “invitational traveler,” a status that meant the VA would cover her expenses. Her airfare cost taxpayers $4,312.
This is a program that would give veterans the option of going to a private sector doctor in lieu of playing the delay wait game at a Veterans Administration facility, after the veteran has jumped through the requisite VA hoops. After a political tussle in Congress over increasing/renewing its funding, some additional money was provided. That additional funding was necessitated because
its popularity depleted the allocated funds more quickly than anticipated. Patient visits through the program increased more than 30% in the first quarter of fiscal year 2017, according to the VA.
Based on a sampling of 148 providers at five unidentified VA hospitals who required review, officials had only reported nine health care workers since 2014, and none had been reported to state licensing boards.
Never mind that
the VA is required to report providers to a national database designed to prevent them from crossing state lines and endangering other patients.
The GAO says in its report on this failure that much of the failure stems from “confusion” about VA responsibilities and reporting requirements.
The Veterans Administration is still creating waitlists and secret waitlists, even after all this time of reporting on and calling the VA out for its dishonesty and its disservice to our veterans. Now a Colorado VA facility is—still—doing secret waitlists.
Investigators with the VA Office of Inspector General confirmed whistleblower and former VA employee Brian Smother’s claim that staff kept unauthorized lists instead of using the department’s official wait list system.
That made it impossible to know if veterans who needed referrals for group therapy and other mental health care were getting timely assistance, according to the report. The internal investigation also criticized record-keeping in PTSD cases at the VA’s facility in Colorado Springs.
After two bills enacted into law that require the Veterans Administration to let our veterans get appointments outside the VA rather than wait interminable time periods to see a VA doctor, the problem has gotten worse. Now there’s a wait period at the VA to get those outside appointments—because the VA must give permission for the outside appointment rather than standing and delivering. It’s especially bad at the Shreveport, LA, VA hospital, but it’s not unique to that place.
In 1971 Kirby Williams went to Vietnam as a US Army draftee and worked as a finance clerk. In 2010 he went to a Veterans Affairs clinic in southern Illinois where a radiologist took a scan of his kidneys.
Unfortunately, the radiologist missed a 2- to 3-centimeter mass in one of his kidneys, and by last December that mass had grown to between 7 and 8 centimeters. Now the 66-year-old has, at most, two to five years to live.
…or worse and worse, depending on your perspective. Not only is the Veterans Administration continuing to make bad/false/improper payments, they seem to be getting acceleratingly worse about it. The Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General reported that the VA made $5 billion in “improper” payments in 2015, and then while that drew attention, the VA increased their improper payouts to $5.5 billion in 2016.
To show how terrible the rates can be, here are some data from James Clark at the above link:
the VA Community Care had 75% of their payments as “improper” payments in 2016
Dr Dale Klein is, formally, on the Veterans Administration payroll—to the tune of a $250,000/yr salary—but he’s not employed by them, and so his pain management skills are actively denied our veterans who would benefit from them. Klein blew the whistle on his proximate employer’s—Southeast Missouri John J Pershing VA facility—secret waiting lists and wait time manipulation practices. Now he’s shunned by his employers and banished to a room by himself where he’s denied access to his patients and patients are denied access to him.
Hanna and Stephen McMenamin posted photos of two aging veterans in the hospital’s waiting room who were in obvious pain and getting no help, for hours. One man was having trouble staying in his wheel chair, and another wound up lying on the floor because he kept asking for a place to lie down and getting no response. The second veteran finally got a response—to make him get back in his waiting room chair.
Medical Center Director DeAnne Seekins finally reacted, after the McMenamins posted their photos:
The wife of an Iraq veteran, blinded by a suicide bomber has a story to tell (RTWT) from the veteran’s spouse’s perspective, and she has asked the central question. Her question is this:
[T]here has to be a better way for our federal government to make it easier for the spouses, parents, and siblings who have to quit their jobs and forfeit their livelihoods to care for an injured veteran.
Her husband’s—and her—problems with this failed agency include things like this [emphasis added]: