Monday, June 2, 2014

Building a Better VA

The Foundary, an arm of the Heritage Foundation, has listed 5 requirements to make the VA work better. Hopefully the next administrator (Secretary) will implement these concepts, but I wouldn't hold my breath.

Here is a synopsis/interpretation of the suggestions:

1. Make the VA accountable. That does not mean say, "They are accountable." That means, "Do what you are supposed to do in an honest, dependable, effecient, ethical and moral manner or face the consequences, which include (but are not restricted to): reprimand, firing, fineing and/or prison time.

2.  Employ an open door policy (like the one where I work...that would be great). Encourage employees to be a part of the process. Many times those closest to the front lines know what is needed better than the higher-ups do. They might have suggestions that need consideration. Make valid whistleblowing a positive, not a negative fraught with fear.

3.  Learn to answer questions directly and to the point. The classic liberal liar (and even the few conservative liars) uses distraction, displacement and evasiveness to avoid answering questions they don't like. Deflection is only necessary when a lie is being told.

4.  Make the VA operate at an effeciency level even higher than their private counterparts. Reauire doctors to work at least as long each day as private doctors work. My cardiologist works 12 hours most days and has to include hospital visits in facilities to which he has to drive. VA doctors are already at the hospital. Their rounds are much easier than those of private doctors. Decrease the amount of paper work VA doctors must do. The amount they do now is beyond ridiculous and leads to things like hiding appointment schedules.

5. Allow veterans more healthcare options. Veterans should be given the direct choice to access private care—based on triggers such as geographic hardships, excess wait times or a general lack of quality care. There are certain illnesses and prcedures the VA is just not equipped to handle. Those should be easily outsourced to private doctors and facilities without 17 different people considering the need before it happens. The VA doctor should have a form that says, "Send this guy (or gal) to so-and-so for such-and-such a reason because we can't handle it." That should be all the impetus needed to get the veteran cared for.

So let's get to it. If these 5 things can be accomplished by the next Secretary, he will have fundamentally transformed the VA, not for the worse, but for the better.
Isn't better better than worse in the minds of liberals?


Craig said...

6. Properly fund it. It will make 1-5 a whole lot easier. Quit asking them to do more with less.

Reauire doctors to work at least as long each day as private doctors work. My cardiologist works 12 hours most days

Absolutely. Let's burn them out at the same rate as private physicians. Who doesn't want to see their doc in the 11th hour of their 12 hour shift? They're at their sharpest.

There are certain illnesses and prcedures the VA is just not equipped to handle.

There are certain injuries the VA is way more equipped to handle than private. Unfortunately, the VA has vast experience with traumatic brain injury, multiple amputations, PTSD, etc. I'm not against allowing quick access to private facilities, as long as it isn't the road to privatization.

What's happening at the VA is scandalous. Overall (yes, there's exceptions), the private sector is no better. The difference is the VA is under much more scrutiny when f-ups occur and the problems are reduced to politicking.

I'm with you, Joe, fix it and politicians, stop trying to score political points.

Xavier Onassis said...

My own thoughts. I veteran shouldn't have to prove to the VA that they are a veteran.

The military branches need to keep comprehensive medical records on every member of the armed forces. From their first entry exam to their final exit exam. Every doctor's appointment, every injury, every diagnosis, every prescription.

When the individual leaves the military, all of their medical history needs to be put in an encrypted file and proactively sent to the VA.

The exiting service members should be given their VA Benefits card on their last day of service.

The encrypted file containing their military medical history can only be open and read if the veteran takes that card to a VA facility and requests benefits.

The veteran swipes their benefits card,enters their PIN, the file is unlocked and the VA immediately has all of the information they need to provide treatment.

The veteran could leave their base, go to the nearest VA hospital and get treatment that day.

Joe said...

Craig & XO: I am about to have a heart attack. I actually agree with both of you! (It took me ten minutes to make my fingers type that.)

The VA needs to be properly and efficiently funded.

The idea that the government knows so much about so many makes it incredulous that they cannot keep up with who is a veteran.

"...all of their medical history needs to be put in an encrypted file and proactively sent to the VA."


Craig: "Who doesn't want to see their doc in the 11th hour of their 12 hour shift?"

My cardiologist keeps his office hours and then relaxes for the next 4 hours. What he likes to do to relax is to treat his patients. He is an old grump to begin with, so it doesn't affect his personality and he's doing what he enjoys doing. He has treated me in the 11th hour just as well as he has in the first.

sue hanes said...

Joe - The five things you list as an improvement over the system we have now seem reasonable. I just hope that something is done to improve veterans' care at the VA hospitals - and soon.

Duckys here said...

VA needs a good cleaning.

Clearly the upper management needs to be thoroughly weeded and to point out an absurdity, Shinseki didn't have the authority to do the job.

Director level personnel receiving bonuses for cooking the waiting time records?

Bernie Sanders (S- Vermont) has introduced a bill to start some of this clean up. Let's see if the bill is reprted and who opposes it.

Craig said...

Glad to hear that about your cardiologist. As a matter of policy, I don't think it's wise to make docs or PAs or nurses work indentured laborers hours. I try to make my appointments for Thursdays, after the dr.s Wednesday golf. I know she'll be tanned and rested.

Joe said...

Craig: After a day of golf I am tired, sunburned, frustrated, agitated and have to replace two or three golf clubs.

(Actually, I don't play golf any more, for those reasons and others).

Fredd said...

Just privatize the whole mess. Government has no business being in health care.

The only thing that government does well is build road and dams (New Orleans not withstanding), and kill our enemies and destroy their stuff.

Healing people is just not the government's thing. It's just not.

Duckys here said...


Now that they can get insurance through the ACA, that might hae become feasible.