Saturday, May 31, 2014

Eric K. Shinseki Faces His Responsibility

Years ago, on this very blog, I stated multiple times that the Veterans Administration hospitals did not deliver what they were supposed to. I sited my father's problems with the VA, as well as the problems two of my friends had.

I was summarily accosted by my liberal readers as citing only anecdotal information that did not represent any systemic problems. The VA, they said, did a good job and was a wonderful example of how the government could administer programs well.

When Eric K. Shinseki to the reigns of the VA, he led everyone to believe that the bureaucracy was functioning well and that he was going to make it even better. Its administration would be honest and open. Our veterans would be served well. Most of all, the VA would rise above the "depths" to which it had sunk under (who else?) George W. Bush. 

Eric K. Shinseki resigned Friday as secretary of veterans affairs, taking responsibility for a scandal in the VA health-care system over excessive waiting times and coverups of what he called “systemic” problems.

Let's assume that Shinseki did inherit a mess. We were told by President BO (the amateur president) that he would start us on the path to a better, more efficient, leaner, more streamlined VA. 

In order to make it better, Shinseki allowed waiting lists to be hidden, so that the appointment/treatment ratio would look better than it was (corrupt). He also refused to allow the states to reach out to VA hospitals to help them conform to state medical services standards.

In Florida, Governor Rick Scott has sued the federal government and the VA because not a single Florida VA hospital would allow the appropriate state personnel to offer assistance in meeting Florida standards. They would not allow inspectors to verify that the VA hospitals were meeting Florida standards. Every VA hospital in Florida refused to open their doors for either state inspection or state help.

Did Eric K. Shinseki simply not know that there were hidden waiting lists? Did he meet regularly with his administrators to determine that they were carrying out the duties with which they were charged?

He did not. But don't worry, everything was just fine. If you didn't believe it, just ask him.

Did Eric K. Shinseki know about the short-comings and just overlook them? If so, he was at best an inept administrator and at worst a lying thief of low character, accepting tax payer money and not doing his job.

Turns out that the difficulties at the VA were much deeper than anybody knew. And, as the risk of once again being ridiculed by my stupid liberal commenters, they obviously go deeper still.

In the end, the VA has shown more light on the inability or refusal of Obama to know what is going on in his administration.  Like Shinseki, he does not regularly meet with his administrators (the cabinet), does not involve himself with the presiding over the laws of the United States of America like he is supposed to. He did not preside well over Benghazi, over the U.S. Postal Service, over the NSA, over the IRS, over the Justice Department (think: Fast and Furious) or over ANY OTHER agency of government he is supposed to be leading. For good measure, brought us the largest number of unemployed job-needers in the history of the country and the largest number to ever drop out of the job seeking category. 

That he was elected in the first place (with zero experience at holding a job, let alone acting as a governmental leader) and was re-elected by the liberal voters of America is a testament to the rank stupidity of liberalism and the low information status of the average citizen.

You gave us the government you deserve, but not the one America needed.

Oh Yeah! The Carney resigned, too.

President Obama announced Friday that Jay Carney will step down as White House press secretary after more than three years and be replaced by his deputy Josh Earnest, who worked on the Obama campaign in 2008. Earnest Started out as Obama’s Iowa communications director in 2007. Earnest joined then-Sen. Obama’s campaign in March 2007 as communications director for Iowa.

Carney, the man who never learned to give a direct answer to a question, who lied constantly, who made illogical statements, who ridiculed press members who did not accept his warped agenda is gone.  

Not a moment too soon.

Does it look like the administration is completing its fall?


sue hanes said...

Joe - If these two men deserve to be out of their jobs then so be it. The trouble is - there is no problem with these scandals since there is no reelection for Obama to have to worry about. He can do pretty much whatever he wants for the next couple of years.

Craig said...

Unlike those other "scandals" you list (the post office?), this is a scandal. Shinseki needed to resign. Obama needs to take responsibility.

There are other facts you might want to consider, being a level headed, fair and balanced Con. Despite the problems your father and friends encountered, the VA still out performs private health care in quality of care and customer satisfaction.

Shinseki allowed waiting lists to be hidden

Huh? You have evidence Shinseki knew about this? The operative word there is hidden. Unlike private care, the VA has performance metrics. The goal is 14 days for an appointment. In Pheonix, and probably elsewhere, they lied about meeting the metric. Heads should roll. For those that want to privatize or voucherize, the private sector has no metric and average wait times are 25-30 days, often longer in densely populated cities.

Republicans in Congress have repeatedly refused the funding increases needed to meet the increased demand from their 2 wars. This is a fact. The VA has had funding increases averaging 6% a year, well below the growth of medical costs per year. The Ryan budget would cut billions from the VA. Not just cuts in growth but cuts.

Another reason for the admin. backlog is the VA's requirement that a patients treatment must be related to their military service. If a 60 year old guy comes in with cancer it must be determined it was due to exposure to Agent Orange or depleted uranium.

Glad you brought up your governor. By refusing to accept Medicaid expansion, over a million Floridians can't get coverage, including 41,000 vets. Every one of you are paying for the expansion and Scott is refusing to take it for political reasons. So, your paying for something your gov. won't let you have. Take that Obama.

Yeah, it's a scandal and EVERYONE involved should be held accountable. Especially those chicken hawks that "support the troops" when they send them off to fight and then expect them to be taken care of on the cheap when they get back. It shouldn't be reduced to partisan politics.

Joe said...

Craig: The Postal Service is being run so well that it is losing money and will be raising rates again and halting Saturday service. Great management! I could add Amtrack to the list, too.

"Huh? You have evidence Shinseki knew about this?"

Absolutely! In spite of the fact that there has been no Obama administration official investigation, it has been being looked into by Republicans for a couple of years.

His resignation will stop them from investigating him, personally. Nobody in politics will have the stomach for that.

He, like ALL of heads of all of the rest of the current agencies and bureaucracies, was a poor administrator.

When private corporations have administrators that bad, they are either fired or the company goes bankrupt.

"...the private sector has no metric and average wait times are 25-30 days, often longer in densely populated cities."

Poppycock! Patently false. A particular popular doctor might have long wait times, but the average in about 10 work days. And if there is an urgency, most patients are worked in.

I work in a call center referring new patients to doctors and helping existing patients get in contact with their regular doctor. I assure you most of our callers are given appointments forthwith. A few doctors inform us of long wait times, but most get the patient right in...many on the same day.

"...patients treatment must be related to their military service."


"By refusing to accept Medicaid expansion..."

I did not bring up Scott in relation to ObamaCare. I brought him up regarding the VA.

Whether you allegations are true or false, they are totally off topic (typical liberal distraction tactic). The issue is whether VA hospitals and clinics will conform to state standards, which for private hospitals in Florida are rightly more stringent than federal standards.

Veterans in Florida and other states have gotten poor service for decades, and any attempts to improve it have been met with contempt and arrogance.

Try to write about something you have experience with instead of leaning on liberal twisted statistics.

Craig said...

but the average in about 10 work days.

We're both wrong, Joe. Wait times vary according to specialty and location but according to this survey (no match for your anecdotal evidence) the average is 18.5 days.

average cumulative wait
time to see a physician
for all
five specialties surveyed in 2014
in all 15 markets was
18.5 days
down from 20.4 days in 2009
and 20.9 days in 2004.

it has been being looked into by Republicans for a couple of years.

Evidence? Show me.

The Postal Service is being run so well that it is losing money

In 2006, Repubs passed a Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act that required the USPS to fund pensions 75 years into the future and do it in 10 years. It comes to 5.5B a year. This is nuts. No business would put up with this. They would run a profit if the funding was amortized over 40-50 years. It was done to try and privatize the mail. Set it up to fail and when it does, claim govt. doesn't work. Just like they're doing with the VA.

.patients treatment must be related to their military service."


Health Care for Veterans: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Eligibility and Enrollment.
Contrary to claims concerning promises of “free health care for
life,” not every veteran is automatically entitled
to medical care from the VA. Eligibility for VA
health care is based primarily on veteran status resulting from military service. Generally,
veterans must also meet minimum service requirements; however, exceptions are made for
veterans discharged due to service-connected di
sabilities, members of th
e Reserve and National
Guard (under certain circumstances), and returning combat veterans. The VA categorizes veterans
into eight Priority Groups, based on factors such as service-connected disabilities and income
(among others)
. Dependents, caregivers, and survivors of certain veterans are eligible for the
Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA), which
reimburses non-VA providers or facilities for their medical care.

Are you telling me it's not contributing to admin backlogs?

The issue is whether VA hospitals and clinics will conform to state standards, which for private hospitals in Florida are rightly more stringent than federal standards.

Can you back that up? I can't find any comparison. You just made that up. And, no, the VA isn't subject to any state regs. It should conform to standards set by Congress and the VA. Rick Scott is grandstanding, trying to make this an issue for Nov. His refusal to accept Medicaid expansion is relevant and flies in the face of his "concerns for vets".

"We're committed to being the most veteran-friendly state in the nation, and reports of deaths, neglect, poor conditions and a secret waiting list in federal VA hospitals in Florida are unacceptable," Scott said in a written statement.

BS. 41,000 vets who aren't eligible for VA health care can't get coverage because of Scott and the Republicans. Not very veteran-friendly.

Joe said...

Craig: "You just made that up."

No, I didn't. Typical liberal arrogance says, "If I can't find it, it does not exist...unless it serves my agenda."

Craig said...

Can you back it up?

I backed up everything I said and I admitted I was wrong about wait times. Very typical of liberals, admitting they are wrong in light of evidence. The typical con bites down harder.

Duckys here said...

Joe, do at least some modest research. The Post Office has been forced by Republican legislation to forward fund their medical system in a manner that no other agency, public or private, has been burdened with.
A blatant attempt to privatize the Post Office and it hasn't worked. Besides, the losses are largely accounting losses.

Now say you are an elderly person in small town ... whatever state and you need to pay your Medicare supplemental to an office in California.
The truck picks up your letter and delivers it to California in a day or two for about 50¢. Is FedEx going to match that.

Best way to get from Boston to New York? Amtrack, great service and it runs at a profit.

Unfortunately, the problem with the VA is structural and has been in place for some time. It's going to cost money to fix it and we would have to step on some management toes. A problem in both public and private endeavor.

Joe, how is Mitch McConnell going to finesse his problem? People of Kentucky are very positive about their government medical program (forget the name) that is funded by the ACA. McConnell is trying to tell them that he'll keep the public program but repeal the ACA. Not going to fly, Joe.

Joe, isn't Rick Scott responsible for the largest Medicare fraud in history? Why is he in office?

Joe said...

Ducky: "Amtrack, great service and it runs at a profit."

It runs a profit in cities where citizens have little choice but to use it. In the rest of the country, it runs at a deficit. While the sum total is in the + column, it would not be there except for the metro areas.

Nevertheless, country-wide, no one could honestly suggest that Amtrack is run well.

I really don't care which Party is responsible for the VA fiasco, or any other scandal, for that matter. I only care that it be cleaned up and run right, something Shinseki did not do, and did not care to do.

If I am wrong, why did he have to step down? (Answer: To keep from being fired in public.)

Duckys here said...

I ave no choice but to use Amtrak to New York?

Are you being silly on purpose, Joe?

I can fly, drive, take the bus or train.
I choose the train.

Lot of people like the Amtrak Cape Codder in the summer rather than dealing with the drive.

Joe said...

Ducky: "Are you being silly on purpose, Joe?"

Me? Silly? Why whoever heard of such a thing. I would never be silly. I might be sarcastic, maybe even cynical, but silly?
come on, Ducky! How can you even think such a thing?

By the way. Do you know how to stop a knock-knock joke?


"Come in."

OK. Let's try this. Everybody must get there. They can either can fly, drive, take the bus or train.

If they all chose one mode, the mode would be useless. Therefore they would have to choose another mode. Sooner or later, they would come down to only Amtrack.

Without even realizing it, you take Amtrack, not because you choose to, but because you have to.

(I Learned that from a liberal friend.)

Craig said...

I really don't care which Party is responsible for the VA fiasco, or any other scandal, for that matter. I only care that it be cleaned up and run right,

See, Joe, we can agree.