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Nebraska City News-Press - Nebraska City, NE
  • And Then There's The Truth: Hide dying veterans, get a bonus

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  • The United States government has a commitment to take care of its military veterans. In case you haven’t heard, however, there’s a scandal rocking the Veterans Administration.
    A recent investigation by CNN revealed that some VA medical centers created secret patient lists in order to delay treatment and give the appearance that the facilities were more efficient than they really were.
    Unfortunately, many of these veterans died as a result.
    Soon after this news broke, a clerk at the Phoenix VA hospital came forward to reveal that the VA reclassified deceased veterans as alive to make the number of dead appear much lower.
    Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn, a medical doctor, stated, “Over the past decade, more than 1,000 veterans may have died as a result of VA malfeasance.”
    CNN obtained an e-mail written by an employee at a Wyoming VA clinic that stated staff was instructed to "game the system" to make the clinic appear more efficient.
    Last month, the results of an audit by the Inspector General showed that 57,000 patients were still waiting for their first appointments.
    Perhaps the most disturbing finding, however, revealed that 13% of VA schedulers were instructed to falsify appointment request dates to give the impression that wait times were shorter than they actually were.
    The report described this activity as a “systemic problem nationwide.” It indicated that official VA reports showed a sampling of 226 patients had waited just 24 days on average for their first primary care appointments, but the actual average was 115 days.
    In addition, at least 1,700 veterans were never scheduled for medical appointments or were placed on a waiting list at the Phoenix VA.
    It’s also been reported that 700 veterans have been placed on a primary care waiting lists for doctor appointments at the Pittsburgh VA center, with some waiting since 2012.
    These falsified wait times were used to determine employee bonuses.
    There have been calls for a criminal prosecution but so far the Justice Department has yet to launch an investigation.
    Equally disturbing is a report from the Miami Herald that states that executive physician for the Miami VA, Vincent DeGennaro is banned from practicing medicine in New York because of a disciplinary incident where a patient died under his care.
    Prohibited from practicing medicine on the public in New York, he’s been hired to practice medicine on veterans in Florida.
    In addition, a spokesman for the LA County Morgue said that there had been about 60 probable veterans at the morgue who had awaited burial for about a year as a result of personnel changes in the VA office and stringent identification and eligibility processes required by the VA.
    Page 2 of 2 - The VA claims that they were never notified the bodies were ready for burial. Perhaps even more shocking is the story of Vietnam veteran Doug Chase.
    He was diagnosed in 2011 with a brain tumor. He requested treatment at the VA hospital in Bedford, MA but died four months later, while still waiting for a response.
    His wife then applied for VA funeral benefits, which were promptly denied because Mr. Chase was never actually treated at a VA facility.
    Then, almost two years after his death, his widow received a letter from the VA stating that her husband was finally approved for treatment and could make an appointment if he so desired.
    Shockingly the letter said the VA was “committed to providing primary care in a timely manner” and then asked for a “prompt response.” The VA has since apologized to Mr. Chase’s family.  
    The series of scandals has cost VA Director Eric Shinseki his job. If the director of the VA is “shocked” that such behavior is occurring under his watch shouldn’t that make us hesitant to hand over the reins of our own medical treatment to the federal government?
    To be sure, the VA has done a lot of good for a lot of veterans, but large government run healthcare can never be as efficient as private health care.
    The more we travel down the road of socialized medicine, the more these types of things will happen.
    If the government will treat its military veterans this way, imagine how it will treat the rest of us.

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