Allen B. West

OUTRAGEOUS: Veterans Administration rocked by NEW scandal

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The horrific treatment of our American veterans should go down as one of the darkest moments in recent U.S. history. How long has it been since we first learned about our men and women who have been willing to make the ultimate sacrifice being placed on waiting lists – and some dying before being seen? We heard the rhetoric about getting to the bottom of this, being disturbed, and guilty parties would be held responsible. So far, as we’ve shared here, only one person has been fired. A program was created for veterans to receive services at facilities of their choosing, closer to where they live. Sadly, the bureaucrats made it so difficult that our veterans gave up. And then the program funding was reduced due to lack of usage — typical.

But wait, it has not gotten better. As reported by Fox News, “The number of veterans seeking health care but ending up on waiting lists of one month or more is 50 percent higher now than it was a year ago when a scandal over false records and long wait times wracked the Department of Veterans Affairs, The New York Times reported.

The VA also faces a budget shortfall of nearly $3 billion, the Times reported in a story posted online ahead of its Sunday editions. The agency is considering furloughs, hiring freezes and other significant moves to reduce the gap, the newspaper reported. In the last year, the VA has increased capacity by more than 7 million patient visits per year, double what officials originally thought they needed to fix shortcomings, the Times reported. However, the newspaper added, department officials did not anticipate just how much physician workloads and demand from veterans would continue to soar. At some major veterans hospitals, demand was up by one-fifth, the paper reported.”

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I have a simple recommendation: stop the incessant bonuses paid to VA bureaucrats and focus on providing services to our veterans. This is not a matter of more money — then again, that’s what every government agency will tell you – but it’s a matter of prioritizing care. And if this is a glimpse into what Obamacare will become — then “Katie bar the door.”

We should be examining how to incorporate veterans into local healthcare systems for their care, especially those in distant remote areas. And speaking of budget cuts, just look up the new VA hospital in Denver and the cost overruns it has encountered – that’s waste that could go to our veterans.

Now, let me add this little tidbit in as well. To my veteran brothers and sisters, we also have a responsibility to take care of ourselves and do our best to live a healthy life. I know there are many ailments and sicknesses that have resulted from our service. But, you guys, let’s watch the drinking and smoking. Let’s get out and go for walks and try to keep our cardio-vascular condition as healthy as possible. I’m not looking for folks to be PT studs but watch the type of foods we are consuming. Look, I still get up and do PT in the mornings and I do enjoy a nice Five Guys burger at times — not everyday though. Healthcare is a personal responsibility and we need y’all in the fight to encourage this next generation of warriors.

However, it is still a responsibility of this government to care for those who have borne the brunt of the battle…and their widows. Now, just ponder this simple point, if folks were in long waiting lines for their food stamps/EBT cards what do you think the response would be? (Remember that 80 percent of the Department of Agriculture budget goes to food programs).

The shell game has begun at the VA where “agency officials expect to petition Congress this week to allow them to shift money into programs running short of cash, according to the newspaper. However, lawmakers may object to removing funds from a new program intended to allow certain veterans on waiting lists and in rural areas to choose taxpayer-paid care from private doctors outside the department’s health system, the Times reported.

“Something has to give,” the department’s deputy secretary, Sloan D. Gibson, said in an interview with the newspaper. “We can’t leave this as the status quo. We are not meeting the needs of veterans, and veterans are signaling that to us by coming in for additional care, and we can’t deliver it as timely as we want to.”

Deputy Secretary Sloan I agree, we cannot leave this as the status quo, but when are we going to streamline the bureaucracy of the agency? And why is it that the new “Choice Act” programs are to be gutted of funding when the promise was made to reform the VA system with this new implementation? Why does the VA want to prevent veterans from seeing private doctors? Funny, if the Obama administration is so intent on providing subsidies as part of Obamacare — even to those in states without approved exchanges — why can’t the same be done for veterans? Perhaps the intent was to never allow our veterans to have choice?

The point is, the VA system is truly broken and the situation of a year ago has not been rectified. There was plenty of rhetoric and faux angst, but the bottom line is that NOTHING has changed – as a matter of fact it has worsened. And it’s not just a matter of more money, it’s a matter of priority and efficiency.

We vets can do a little better job taking care of ourselves — but the government must live up to its promise, one would think.

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