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« Screw reason. Ben Carson listens only to the voices in his head. | Main | Snowden, the NSA, and "please proceed" »

May 30, 2014

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My comments on the VA "scandal".

We now know that the secret waiting list problem has been going on since 2004 and the then administration knew about it and did nothing to rtectify it. At the same time, the current administration should also have done something about it, although with lack of sufficient funding foe medical staff, that is not easy to do.

Part of the problem is finding enough doctors to provide services. Mayhaps, if VA doctors were paid a little more, they might be able to attract more physicians.

People forget that the VA is far more than just the medical care aspect of it. In other support services, the VA under Shinseki has received glowing support from the people who actually matter, the veterans themselves. Note how only one veteran group, with close ties to the GOP, has come out calling for Shinseki's head. All the others have either remained neutral or have supported Shinseki.

Today Shinseki address the National Coalition of Homeless Veterans and received a standing ovation when he was introduced.

Almost all the folks calling for his head in Congress, on both sides of the aisle, have never had to deal with the VA. Many of those who are veterans have been very supportive of Shinseki.

Shinseki is a very capable administrator and I believe he will do everything he can to right the current mess. To make a change at this level, right now, would only complicate and delay matters.

Finally, when Shinseki took over the backlog of claims for veteran benefits was at a record high. Since then the backlog has been cut in half and is continuing to be cut down. This is despite the efforts of the GOP to make it worse.

In fact, in terms of everything that has happened positive in this country in the last 5 1/2 years, it has been despite the efforts of the GOP.

This may be the only valid criticism of Shinoseki. He was chosen to be in the position he is in precisely because of his history in speaking truth to power. It was he who told the Bush administration that their war planning for the occupation of Iraq was ludicrous and lacked the resources for the mission. and he paid a high price for that at the time. And it was he who should have been shouting the same thing to the roof tops in regard to the VA. What misplaced loyalty led him to try to go to health care for vets with the health care system he had at his disposal (to paraphrase the idiot Rumsfeld) I do not know.

I do know that the current process of trying to lay blame for these fiascoes at the feet of the Obama administration will have dire consequences for vets. If there is a political reward for underfunding the VA not only will the problems continue but it is absolutely certain that no talented administrator will touch this portfolio with a ten foot pole. And that will apply throughout the entire bureaucracy of the VA. What is most appalling to me is how every taling head on television from Rachel Maddow to Bill O'Reilly is taking advantage of the opportunity to wrap themselves in patriotic fervor while asking none of the obvious questions. the most obvious being this: if there are unacceptable wait times for access to health care how can that be attributable to anything but a lack of resources?

There is no other answer. Since around 2005, the number of veterans has increased dramatically and the increase in docs has lagged far behind.

I think a problem here, though, is not the waiting periods, but the way that patients were slotted and taken off lists so that it didn't look like there was a lonf wait. People got bonuses for hiding the reality of the situation.

First thing is to take away the bonus structure that provided the motivation for this behavior.

That is very good suggestion. Much the same thing happens on Wall st where bonuses are based on annual benchmarks and goals which inevitably invites short term strategies rather than long term investments. Teachers too abhor standardized testing, unless they are writing and marking the tests, because they are used to reward artificial success rather than to allocate resources where they are needed. Rewarding "success" in this manner has got to be one of the stupidest applications of the capitalist model ever conceived by man. The path of least resistance to "success" is usually to game the system.

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