VA: Investigating From Within

The Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) Office of Inspector General (IG) has been investigating the VA hospital in Phoenix where veterans were waiting months for appointments and employees, as President Obama said, “cooked the books” to cover up delays in providing timely appointments.

The IG issued a draft report from their investigation this week. You can read the Associated Press story HERE.

The VA contends the VA’s IG is an “independent” part of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Do you buy that? Most of us who have served in the military know all about the IG and their so-called independence.

The VA investigating itself reminds me of when U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.) said he would have “ethics audits” in his office every year, and that he would pick someone to do the “ethics audit.” The Montana press corps proclaimed Tester to be as pure as new-fallen snow. Of course, the person Tester picked to conduct the audit never found anything wrong. It looks like that stunt for votes has run its course because we never hear about these yearly ethics audits these days.

It is good to know that IG investigators say they “found no proof that delays in care caused any deaths” but there are still long delays in getting care. Some veterans are still waiting over 90 days for an appointment which is terrible. I am sure that local civilian hospitals and clinics in the Phoenix area can easily see these veterans within two weeks.

The VA has attempted to clear the backlog. They contend “Nearly 912,000 total referrals to non-VA care providers have been made in the last two months. That is, over 190,000 more referrals to non-VA care providers than the same period in 2013 (721,000).”

Other issues the VA IG found were addressed in a press release from the VA. You can read it HERE.

According to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald there will be an independent review of every VA medical center’s scheduling and access practices beginning this fall by The Joint Commission.

Independent reviews (by organizations outside the VA) are a good thing.

Little by little every VA medical center will be investigated. With any luck, some of the problems and dead weight will be removed from the VA so veterans can get timely healthcare. McDonald will hopefully devote some of his time to fixing the delay in the claims process, too.

 

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