Saturday, May 17, 2014

Financial Times: Veterans scandal risks engulfing Obama

"Amid contrived outrage over Benghazi and the improving fortunes of its healthcare reform, the Obama administration could be facing a genuine scandal about its treatment of military veterans that has the potential to attract broad political condemnation of its competence..."
... the subject really began to gather steam three weeks ago when CNN interviewed Sam Foote, who had recently retired as a doctor after working for 24 years for VA hospitals in Phoenix, Arizona. He said that as many as 40 patients had died after being placed on a hidden waiting list that could last for up to a year, while officials at the hospital shredded documents and faked evidence to make it seem as if waiting times were under control.

Since then... whistleblowers have alleged similar practices at least seven other VA hospitals around the country and claimed that officials at the hospitals were sometimes paid bonuses for reducing declared waiting times.

The political impact of the scandal has been somewhat muted so far, in part because of the respect still enjoyed by the veterans affairs secretary, retired four-star general Eric Shinseki who was himself wounded twice in Vietnam. Appearing before a Senate hearing on Thursday, Mr Shinseki received pointed questioning, but in a tone more respectful than almost any other cabinet member would have encountered. “I am mad as hell,” he told the committee.
Attorney General Eric Holder said Tuesday that the Department of Justice doesn't have any plans to investigate allegations that veterans placed on secret waiting lists at VA hospitals died while waiting for care.

24 comments:

Meade said...

Terrible.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

"Fuck the veterans. They didn't vote for us, anyway."

I'm Full of Soup said...

Holder has his priorities. He sent FBI agents to New Jersey the day after the bridge scandal erupted in the news.

AllenS said...

I can hardly wait until the government runs all of the health care in this country.

Remember, when you sit in the lobby of the VA or a VA clinic, you look at the pictures of Obama and Shinseki.

Unknown said...

Eric Holder was installed to protect his King and the King's interests.

edutcher said...

"contrived outrage over Benghazi and the improving fortunes of its healthcare reform"?

Dare I take it this rag leans slightly Left?

bagoh20 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
chickelit said...

It's interesting who is reporting this news. Other outlets are busy infighting.

bagoh20 said...

If the last few years of non-stop scandals and bankrupt city, states, and D.C. have not convinced you of how poorly government does things, then you are beyond help. What does it take? There some things that just have to be governmental, but the institution is so bad at doing anything, and is so corrupt and wasteful that we should avoid giving it any work to do at all unless we specifically want it fucked up, expensive and dangerous.

For example, look at the death penalty. We have been killing each other since the dawn of time. Animals and even plants and bacteria do it all day long with no training or technology. Some of the dumbest people alive can pull it off, but give the government the job of killing someone and they can't do it without screwing it up? Really? Everybody on earth over 12 knows how to do it, but the government as usual complicates it and bumbles away like a toddler with a popsicle.

Then give them the job of saving or preserving lives and they kill people effortlessly. It's some kind of reverse magic power.

ricpic said...

Yes, it's always the private sector that is EVIL, never the unaccountable monopolistic no market consequences gubmint.

Icepick said...

A J, don't forget that they're still investigating George Zimmerman too.

Rabel said...

"We're going to ... cut those backlogs, slash those wait times, deliver your benefits sooner."

-- Obama, to a Veterans of Foreign Wars convention, August 17, 2009

john said...

There is a cottage industry of fired federal employees suing and winning, or settling, by claiming punishment for whistle blowing. There is a larger population of "retiring" employees who have been saving a parting shot aimed at their supervisor for most of their careers. Private sector too. There is too much of that shit going down on a regular basis.

The irritatingly ambiguous claim that 40 vets may have died while waiting for appointments makes it sound like they keeled over dead in the waiting room. Wouldn't someone with that knowledge also be able to provide a perspective on how that statistic holds up under closer scrutiny? If he didn't have that knowledge isn't his claim reckless?

AReasonableMan said...

john said...
If he didn't have that knowledge isn't his claim reckless?


Yes.

Rabel said...

"The irritatingly ambiguous claim that 40 vets may have died while waiting for appointments makes it sound like they keeled over dead in the waiting room."

The employee in question did not "make it sound like they keeled over in the waiting room," CNN did.

I encourage you to watch the video at the "Sam Foote" link above.

Bleach Drinkers Curing Coronavirus Together said...

"Engulfing" sounds like a foreboding enough way to implicate the president. Can we impeach him, now?

Lydia said...

Another very troubling aspect of this:

"According to Foote, the elaborate scheme in Phoenix involved shredding evidence to hide the long list of veterans waiting for appointments and care. Officials at the VA, Foote says, instructed their staff to not actually make doctor's appointments for veterans within the computer system.

Instead, Foote says, when a veteran comes in seeking an appointment, 'they enter information into the computer and do a screen capture hard copy printout. They then do not save what was put into the computer so there's no record that you were ever here,' he said.

and later...

'I feel very sorry for the people who work at the Phoenix VA,' said Foote. 'They're all frustrated. They're all upset. They all wish they could leave 'cause they know what they're doing is wrong.

'But they have families, they have mortgages and if they speak out or say anything to anybody about it, they will be fired and they know that'."

chickelit said...

Instead, Foote says, when a veteran comes in seeking an appointment, 'they enter information into the computer and do a screen capture hard copy printout. They then do not save what was put into the computer so there's no record that you were ever here,' he said.

I think that violates some of the Obamacare directives designed to streamline medical care records. The move was supposed to be away from paper only records. But then, what does the VA have to do with Obamacare?

chickelit said...

Eric the fruit bat captured it quite well in the second comment.

I'm Full of Soup said...

I wish a ballsy Repub would take some initiative and propose we enact a dedicated tax of say $5 Billion a year to be spent strictly on the VA to fix this now! We should not wait for some phony investigation by Obama's pal and $5 Billion is a drop in the bucket in the grand scheme of things.

I'm Full of Soup said...

To raise the $5 Billion, we could tax every citizen $17 each per year.

Or better yet, we could just tax every non-citizen aka illegal /undocumented /resident alien/ exchange student $250 each per year.

john said...

Yep, $5 billion more a year into a federal program will fix it all up.

Why not $50 billion pumped into 10 federal programs? Then when they are fixed we can move on to the next 10. We can fix government; all it takes is more money.

Why didn't someone think of that before?

I'm Full of Soup said...

Then how about this John? We take $5 Billion from existing tax credit/ subsidy programs that benefit oil/ solar / wind/ ethanol producers and divert it to the VA? I am sure you also believe the overriding issue here is veterans are not getting what they need. And of course, I agree with you that there is humongous waste at play but let's divert money NOW to get the vets quality and timely care. Got it now John?

john said...

AJ, just enjoy the fun in finding a commenter here that advocates more government spending.

I don't think that where you find $5billion is what's important. Every government fiasco since there was a government has been attributed to poor agency funding. The worse an agency is, the more money it gets during the next budget cycle, or earlier if they really fucked up instead of merely screwed up.

I would like to find out whether there is a problem beyond employee sniping and sabotage before throwing money at some undefined problem (if I was in charge).

Why are there even VA hospitals now?

Remember when sweet little Jimmy Carter tried to do away with the Bureau of Reclamation? He even changed its name, for a while. I can't totally dislike that man.