Don’t believe everything you hear about the overhaul of the VA hospital system and the systematic firing of employees that were involved in the waiting list scandal. Many of these reports are factually inaccurate and carry the taint of desperation politics.
“Despite the passage of the Choice Act last year, the VA is still not doing enough to hold those responsible accountable for their corrupt behavior when treating our nation’s veterans,” said Senator Jerry Moran in January.
The Government Accountability Office issued a report in February that continued to show problems with delays in doctor appointments, poor oversight and poor health care. The organization says that the Department of Veteran’s Affairs healthcare system is “high-risk” and vulnerable to “fraud, waste, abuse and mismanagement.”
As the number of veterans seeking help within the VA system rises – it has grown by over 2 million veterans since 2002 – the help the veterans receive is not keeping up. The money has, however. Funding has been increased by 85% during the same period.
Just as troublesome are the claims made by VA Secretary Robert McDonald when he was on Meet the Press in mid-February. During the TV show, McDonald claimed, “Nine hundred people have been fired since I became secretary. We’ve got 60 people that we fired who have manipulated wait times.”
Three days later, the Washington Post challenged that claim. Since June 2014, disciplinary action for 75 employees has been proposed. At this point, only eight VA employees have been removed, another five resigned and 23 cases are pending. Although others have been demoted, placed on probation or faced some sort of disciplinary action, the actual number who were fired is eight, not 60.
VA spokesman James Hutton said, “Regarding the 60 figure, it is most accurate to say that ‘VA has proposed disciplinary action related to data manipulation or patient care against more than 60 employees nationwide.’ This takes into account the full range of accountability actions including admonishments, demotions, reprimands, and termination.”
Of the 900 firings, 487 were terminations during the first-year probation period. That means that over half of the reported firings were limited to new employees but it was implied that the firings were related to the scandal and not to problems with absenteeism, poor work performance or other causes. In comparison during 2013, when Secretary Shinseki was running the organization, 2,247 people were fired.
Of course, that is not all, either. CBS News broke a story, at the end of February, about entitlement claims being discarded, hidden or mismanaged that resulted in claims being denied. This mismanagement stretches back over, at least, the last decade.
No one expected a quick fix to the VA problems. These issues are complex and deserve more than a knee-jerk response, but having the VA Secretary exaggerating the results of the ongoing investigation is hardly an appropriate response to the crisis.
It has the appearance of playing politics with the health of our veterans and manipulating data to show that the situation is better than it really is. Neither of which are indicative of any real desire by the current secretary in fixing the problem, but would be the response of a political appointee who is in way over his head.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.