Two weeks ago, Barack Hussein Obama stood before the American Legion in Charlotte NC. The response was tepid. It should have been silence. Now, the Washington Examiner tells us why: “Crucial language that the Department of Veterans Affairs inspector general could not “conclusively” prove that delays in care caused patient deaths at a Phoenix hospital was added to its final report after a draft version was sent to agency administrators for comment, the Washington Examiner has learned. The single most compelling sentence in the inspector general’s 143-page final report on fraudulent scheduling practices at the Phoenix veterans’ hospital did not appear in the draft version, according to a staff analysis by the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. It was inserted into the final version, the only one that was released to the public, after agency officials had a chance to comment and recommend revisions.” So the Veterans Administration Inspector General allowed his draft report to be altered by the very agency he was reporting on! This is not exactly what the IG is supposed to do.
The Examiner says, “while the case reviews in this report document poor quality of care, we are unable to conclusively assert that the absence of timely quality care caused the deaths of these veterans,” the final IG report stated in two places. No such language appears in the draft version that was sent by the IG to agency officials for comment. Key members of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs have questioned whether the agency pressured the IG to soften its already scathing conclusions that phony appointment logs were used to hide long delays in care at the Phoenix facility.”
It is the job of an agency IG to be an objective and unbiased watchdog of the agency, not a compromised lackey. It is very disconcerting that we cannot get the truth from an agency charged with taking care of our veterans. It appears this agency is far more concerned about protecting its own image and must hide the truth to do that. This is yet another of those “phony” scandals about which Obama displayed such indignation. Yet the rabbit hole just continues to go deeper. Are there bright spots in the VA system? Yes, but there are some systemic problems that are not being resolved, not withstanding that there was a promise by Barack Obama to do so.
The Examiner says, “Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., chairman of the House Veterans Committee, announced Monday his committee will hold a hearing next week. The hearing is to sort out why the language exonerating the VA for patient deaths was included in the final report, and how the IG reached that conclusion. “Given that VA selectively leaked key information related to the Phoenix investigation before the inspector general released its report and the fact that there are significant differences between the final IG report and the draft version, which VA reviewed and commented on prior to publication, this matter deserves further study and review,” Miller said in a statement announcing the Sept. 18 hearing. “We will ensure that happens.”
The ambiguity and distrust has built to such a point that Louis Celli, legislative director for the American Legion, said, “Whether or not there is conclusive evidence that delayed healthcare was the direct causal effect of a veteran immediately passing to their deaths, that was never what we were afraid of. What we were afraid of was that delayed healthcare was causing additional harm and damage to veterans.” The Examiner says The Legion has called for an independent investigation by a “non-VA authority” to determine whether delays contributed to patient deaths in Phoenix or other VA facilities.Of course the VA is acting with belligerence, questioning why Congress is asking for their draft report. Just wait, that report will end up in the same place as Lois Lerner’s emails. Something is amiss at the VA deep within the bureaucracy of the agency. If it can be proved that the VA IG was pressured into altering his report, someone has to be held accountable, because we’re talking about lives being lost – lives that should have been honored and protected.
The mission statement of the Veterans Administration, as promised by President Abraham Lincoln is “To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan by serving and honoring the men and women who are America’s veterans.” I would recommend that mission statement be recited by every government agency bureaucrat in the VA.