The Veterans Hospitals have crossed a Red Line

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The war is on! President Obama is “mad as hell” and he’s not going to take it anymore. We’ve been reporting about the murderous mess at the VA. At least forty veterans in Phoenix have died because the VA kept an off-list schedule of who needed treatments like cancer screening. Vets either died before their name came up in the VA administrators’ appointment lottery or their cancer had moved from a treatable stage to untreatable.

Lists like the one in Phoenix appear to have been kept at least 26 VA hospitals that we know of so far. That’s the number the VA Inspector General is currently investigating.

Your Curmudgeon takes this issue personally. We live in Phoenix and our son, a Marine Corps veteran, is a disabled veteran. Unlike many, probably most veterans, he’s in very good health, maybe because he has a complete copy of his medical records and gets copies of everything that goes into his record every time he goes to VA. We’d also note that his actual medical care has been very good, it’s the administrators who are the sand the VA gears. It’s also the administrators who caused this mess so they could bump their bonus checks.

The issue of VA administrators willfully overseeing the untimely and unnecessary deaths of so many of our veterans should result in criminal prosecutions and very long prison sentences. President Obama is on top of the problem.

WASHINGTON — President Obama on Wednesday expressed outrage about allegations of misconduct at veterans hospitals and said that people in the Department of Veterans Affairs — including Eric Shinseki, its secretary — could be punished if investigations revealed wrongdoing.

[…]

“I will not stand for it,” Mr. Obama said. “Not as commander in chief, but also not as an American. None of us should.” He added that if “these allegations prove true,” he would consider the actions “dishonorable.”

“Once we know the facts, I assure you, if there was misconduct, people will be punished,” he said.

We think he probably added, “Period.”

The President learned about the problems at the VA from a TV news report. Yep, that’s Baghdad Jay said.

We think that may be stretching things a bit. We’re pretty sure that President Obama knew there were problems at the VA when he was still Junior Senator Obama.

“After seven years of an Administration that has stretched our military to the breaking point, ignored deplorable conditions at some VA hospitals, and neglected the planning and preparation necessary to care for our returning heroes, America’s veterans deserve a President who will fight for them not just when it’s easy or convenient, but every hour of every day for the next four years.”

“Every hour of every day for the next four years.” Certainly, we’re on board with the idea that the Bush Administration did a lousy job of making sure veterans got the best quality health care possible. Wait times were increasing and not much was being done to fix the problem. Shame on GWB. That’s not snark, we’re serious.

That was seven years ago. We hate to be the bearer of bad news to the now President, but after seven years – five and one half of which he was President – if the problem is still around HE owns it. It’s called accountability.

Well, you’re saying, maybe he forgot. After all 2007 was a long time ago. Yes it was, so let’s fast forward to 2008, after his election.

According to the Washington Times, briefing documents obtained through a Freedom if Information Act request revealed that the issue of long waiting times and scheduling problems at veterans facilities was first mentioned just weeks after the 2008 presidential election, as transition teams helped fill in the incoming Obama-Biden administration.

In the documents, officials from the Department of Veterans Affairs cautioned the incoming Obama team, stating that the waiting times being reported by veterans facilities around the country may not be accurate.

“This is not only a data integrity issue in which [Veterans Health Administration] reports unreliable performance data; it affects quality of care by delaying — and potentially denying — deserving veterans timely care,” the documents read, as quote by the Times.

It would appear, in 2008, that veterans were not being taken “off-list,” it was a matter of scheduling problems and long wait times. Taking veterans out of the regular scheduling routine and being kept on an off-line list so when they were seen, it gave the appearance of a timely appointment wasn’t happening in 2008. Administrators were struggling with scheduling; they weren’t yet complicit in murdering the very veterans they are charged to care for.

Fast forward to 2010.

An internal VA memo from 2010, first disclosed at a congressional hearing last week, showed officials warned of “inappropriate scheduling practices” to cover up excessive waits for veterans four years ago.

The memo by William Schoenhard, who was a VA deputy undersecretary, referred to a growing practice of “gaming strategies” that he said would not be tolerated. However, the CNN investigation shows such practices have continued.

President Obama took office in January of 2009. From 2008, when inspectors found scheduling delays but no “gaming strategies” the administrators at the VA had moved from hand wringing to falsifying reports. In order to falsify the reports they had to basically take veterans appointment and care needs out of the system, putting their lives at risk.

They also were able to take the heat off themselves with respect to scheduling and delays and they were able to earn $8.8 million in bonuses. All they had to do to earn those bonuses was be willfully indifferent to the fate of their patients. Note: those bonuses were paid to administrators, not medical personnel.

The President is now “mad as hell” according to White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough.

“The President will continue to demand that he and all of us who work for him continue to fix these things until they are functioning the way that our veterans, believe they should and the way that, so that they get the, the services and the benefits that they have earned.”

We have just one Curmudgeonly question for the President. “You’re now mad as hell and you’re demanding this gets fixed. Where the hell have you been since January of 2009 and why weren’t you even a smidgen upset about this then? Or, why weren’t you even a teeny bit upset about that 2010 memo?”

We’re not holding our breath.

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About Author

Michael Becker is a long time activist and a businessman. He's been involved in the pro-life movement since 1976 and has been counseling addicts and ministering to prison inmates since 1980. Becker is a Curmudgeon. He has decades of experience as an operations executive in turnaround situations and in mortgage banking. He blogs regularly at The Right Curmudgeon, The Minority Report, Wizbang, Unified Patriots and Joe for America. He lives in Phoenix and is almost always armed.

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