The IG Report and the HVAC Hearing in one word: Brutal

| May 29, 2014

It was an early morning after staying up past midnight last night listening and watching the House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing on why they aren’t getting documentation they had requested YEARS ago.  Unfortunately for the VA personnel who had to testify, it couldn’t have been worse timing.  The IG report came out yesterday at noon, and the hearing started at 7:30.

I am not kidding when I say it was the most brutal hearing of all time.  I’ve been to literally thousands of hearings, and even testified before congress on about 15 different occassions.  Nothing I have seen came close to this.  For just one 6 minute example of how bad it was, watch this:

Here is the chairman getting into it too.  I met him at convention last year, and he’s a super nice guy, so you can just feel how unbelievably frustrated he is:

It literally went on and on.  Dr Lynch talked about taking his wife with him on the trip to Arizona, which really angered a lot of the panel.  During the 5 minute intermission he forgot to turn his microphone off and he was talking about how he shouldn’t have said it.  Well, no, actually you shouldn’t have DONE it. 

Dr. Lynch went to Phoenix to get a handle on the “system”, he said that over and over and over.  He spoke with no patients, no doctors, no whistleblowers.  They only talked to the schedulers.  The same people who were maintaining the secret waiting lists.  How on Earth he expected to get answers from the people he was ostensibly there to check on is beyond me, and seemed to be beyond the Congressmen and women as well.

Congressman Huelskamp in particular wasn’t buying ANYTHING that VA was selling last night, as he made clear in a series of Tweets that Twitchy noted:

And the dam is starting to break on demands for Secretary Shinseki’s resignation.  While some Republicans and a few Georgia Democrats had called for it already, others had called for everyone to wait on the IG report.  Well, that came in, and things turned south QUICKLY (from Politico):

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki’s support on Capitol Hill crumbled on Wednesday as members of his own party deserted him in the aftermath of a highly critical inspector general report that found “systemic” problems at VA medical facilities.

Within just hours of the report’s release, the number of Democrats calling for Shinseki’s resignation more than doubled. By Wednesday evening, more than a dozen congressional Democrats publicly called for his ouster, joining a growing number of influential Republicans….

Among those pushing for his dismissal are the Senate’s most vulnerable Democrats, whose reelection bids are critical to the party maintaining control of the chamber next year. Democratic Sens. Mark Udall of Colorado, John Walsh of Montana and Kay Hagan of North Carolina released separate statements saying the secretary must go, reflecting pressure to break ranks with the Obama administration during an election year. Late Wednesday night, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) added their voices to the chorus of Democrats asking for a shake-up in leadership at the VA.

At this point it seems like it is only a matter of when the resignation will occur.  It seems exceedingly unlikely that further reviews will go any better for the VA.

For those that want to look at the IG report, you can READ IT BY CLICKING HERE.  It is fairly short if you don’t read the addendums.  One thing that stood out to me in reading it though, and which the hearing last night focused on was the number of reports done previously that apparently no one at VA really decided to take seriously.

But the take-away was this:

 

To review the new patient wait times for primary care in FY 2013, we reviewed a statistical sample of 226 Phoenix HCS appointments.  VA national data, which was reported by Phoenix  HCS, showed these 226 veterans waited on average 24 days for their first primary care  appointment and only 43 percent waited more than 14 days. However, our review showed these 226 veterans waited on average 115 days for their first primary care appointment with approximately 84 percent waiting more than 14 days. At this time, we believe that most of the waiting time discrepancies occurred because of delays between the veteran’s requested appointment date and the date the appointment was created. However, we found that in at least 25 percent of the 226 appointments reviewed, evidence, in veterans’ medical records, indicates that these veterans received some level of care in the Phoenix HCS, such as treatment in the emergency room, walk in clinics, or mental health clinics.

 

Further…

 

while conducting our work at the Phoenix HCS our on-site OIG staff and OIG Hotline received numerous allegations daily of mismanagement, inappropriate hiring decisions, sexual harassment, and bullying behavior by mid- and senior-level managers at this facility. We are assessing the validity of these complaints and if true, the impact to the facility’s senior leadership’s ability to make effective improvements to patients’ access to care.

 

Category: Politics

Comments (43)

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  1. Hondo says:

    Well, that first take-away sounds kinda familiar, TSO. (smile)

  2. Mr Wolf says:

    I’m going to reiterate- this deplorable condition doesn’t exist at EVERY VA facility. My experiences, and many vets that I know, were very good at Bay Pines in St Petersburg, FL. Excellent care and staff.

    THAT SAID- I have to say that what I saw from the part of veterans in a few instances was DEPLORABLE. Ever been in a hospital where you felt like stabbing the guy next to you with a dull shovel? I have to hand it to the staff- they handled it well. The vet/patient was a complete, utter asshole. It was obvious he had issues. In a 4-man room, we could tell he was just not able to make his own decisions, but no paperwork was there to back these assumptions up, so the staff just had to deal with it. For example- he was on oxygen; he had lung problems. So every 20 min he’d sneak downstairs and take a smoke. Doc’s / med techs would tell him stop that, and he’d go into a ‘fuck you’ rant for another 10 min about how he could do whatever he wanted.
    It got so bad they called in leadership from his VFW post to try to get him to cooperate. He refused. I’ve seen many instances where vet/patients abuse the system and clog it with such idiocy.

    As to the hiring practices mentioned above- I’m willing to bet that the possibility exists that these are job seekers ‘rejected’ that are gaming the system in order to force a re-look at hirings. Anymore, in order to GET a job you have to be a loud, obnoxious squeaky wheel when going for gov’t positions. So these people will play every card they can until they get what they want. It MAY not be the case here, but it’s not beyond possibility.

  3. Old Trooper says:

    You know your shit is weak when you have both sides of the political spectrum beating you like a rented mule in front of the nation. Those videos were painful to watch. I haven’t seen a verbal ass whoopin’ like that in a very long time, but it was directed at some of the wrong people. I think the 3rd guy was just sent out there to take the ass whoopin’ for someone else, but Dr. Lynch needs to come clean, as well as Ms. Mooney.

  4. Just an Old Dog says:

    That was an asschewing of biblical and epic proportions.
    That idiot Lynch needs to be shit-canned. Really, he gets put on notice to go to Arizona and unfuck them. He should have went there with the implication to the staff there that heads were going to roll and people were going to get fired.
    He took his wife on a fucking VACATION there.
    The officials in Arizona weren’t afraid of him coming out and breaking his foot off in their ass they LOOKED forward to meeting with their BUTTBUDDY. They knew it was going to be an exercise in covering shit up doing a public wringing of their hands and say they were committed to Veteran’s health.
    I wish that Senator would have walked up and slapped the shit out of him.

    • OldSoldier54 says:

      He certainly comes across as another “public servant” getting fat on the taxpayer’s dime – while accomplishing nothing to justify his no doubt generous salary, benefits, and pension package.

  5. HMCS(FMF) ret says:

    It’s time to flush the toilet on every one of these idiots running the VA , from Ric on down… every fucking one of them that got “performance bonuses” for their “work”. They don’t give a flying fuck about the Vets – never have and never will and this shows it.

    This is what Obamacare is going to look like people… for those of you that wanted it, this it what the steaming pile of horseshit sammich is gonna look like.

    • Old Trooper says:

      Actually, this is what single payer is going to look like. Obamacare is just the stepping stone to get to single payer. They will use the fuck ups with Obamacare to push for it, saying it will streamline everything……….just like at the VA. As Mr. Wolf says; it’s not all VAMCs, because I really can’t complain about the care I get at mine, plus I have heard from others that transferred to mine that they did so because of its good reputation.

  6. ChipNASA says:

    Take all of the vets OUT of the Phoenix hostpital and put them in properly managed facilities even if it means private or public commercial facilities, take the senior VA staff from that hospital, other shitbox hospitals around the nations, the entire staff from VA headquarters around the nation and DC and place them in the care of the Phoenix hospital, lock the doors and windows and BURN THE PLACE TO THE GROUND…..then carpet bomb the remains.
    ಠ_ಠ ಠ▃ಠ ლ(ಠ益ಠლ \(`0´)/ 凸(`0´)凸凸(`0´)凸凸(`0´)凸

  7. COB6 says:

    Resignation my ass! These people should go to jail!

    The burden of proof to directly link a wait list to a death may be difficult but FRAUD and CONSPIRACY seem like slam dunks.

    • OldSoldier54 says:

      Yep.

    • Sparks says:

      COB6 I could not agree more sir. That was the kind of Congressional Hearing I like to watch. These ass clowns and for me, especially Ms. Mooney, should be fired after they are told along with everyone else who should be fired, that their lifetime healthcare will now be at the VA. It really got me when close to the end Ms. Mooney’s voice started to crack and she was fighting back the tears. Not tears of sympathy for veterans. Tears of anger at having her feet held to the fire relentlessly. Then at the end you see her roll her eyes and give the big unsaid, “Bitch” look to the Congresswoman. I know from reading here there are some well run Va hospitals and for those I am thankful. But even if it were only ONE, say Phoenix. ONE where veterans die is ONE TOO MANY! I loved when the Congresswoman asked it they took responsibility and they had no real answer. The third guy was there to take someone’s, probably out golfing, ass chewing for them. I don’t know what it will take to fix the VA. But before Obama and Kerry hand out $5 billion to all their friends at home and abroad to you know, push back “radical extremists”, take that $5 billion and apply it to the VA problems and them veteran pay and benefits. Truth is, in my mind, those three could have cared less about the deaths which occurred. They are out to keep and protect their phony baloney jobs. Period. I say screw the two of them, Lynch and Mooney (I’ll cut the third guy slack because he was way out of place being there). Fuck ’em and fire ’em and then from Shinseki all the way down to the staff at the hospitals involved in the deaths, start prosecuting for malpractice an negligent homicide.

    • Richard says:

      I want change so jail is the right answer. Unless there is some jail time, Congress isn’t serious and the civil service people won’t take them seriously.

  8. Pinto Nag says:

    Maybe they intended to screw up the system so bad the call would go out to privatize it. Isn’t that what they’ve been trying to do for about the last twenty years anyway? Champus, Tricare, etc?

  9. Hondo says:

    Remind me to NEVER get on Representative Jackie Walorski’s “sh!t list”.

    • HMCS(FMF) ret says:

      She eviscerated Ms. Mooney over the bullshit she was telling her and the committee for months… Mooney deserved every minute of that verbal asskicking!

      • Hondo says:

        I agree that it was fully deserved, HMCS(FMF) ret.

        I still don’t want to get on that lady’s bad side.

    • gitarcarver says:

      I am going to take a slightly different approach to Walorski’s comments.

      First, I hate it when people interrupt other people after asking them a question. Mooney was a blathering idiot at times, but that doesn’t mean that Walorski should have responded to her plea to answer the question Walorski asked with “no you may not…..this is my time.”

      To me, it comes across as grandstanding rather than seeking answers.

      Secondly, Walorski’s question of “does the buck stop with you?” was good – especially when it came to Dr. Lynch – but it was over the top when it came to Huff, who acts as a liaison.

      There is something else as well, in my opinion. The VA “mess” has been going on for some time. While there are beacons of light in the darkness, the problems are well known and documented yet remain unresolved.

      The question that I would have asked of Walorski is “you are sitting member on the House Oversight Committee for Veterans Affairs. Does the buck stop with you? Or can we admit that your oversight is just as useless as some of the hacks in the VA itself?”

  10. Beretverde says:

    I am wondering about the money behind the “DEATH SCANDAL.” Were bonuses tied to this…job performances that would equate to raises etc?

    Put these incompetents out on the street and make them wait just like the vets they are suppose to serve have to. Fair is fair…but life is not fair…but RIGHT is RIGHT though.

  11. Ex-PH2 says:

    News story last night, in relation to this, is that the administration (bodaprez) is ‘looking at’ sending the ‘overflow’ vets to private doctors and hospitals, with the VA paying for it.

    Now, considering how long it takes the gubbmint to pay bills and how much fraud there is in that, just what do any of you think will come of that? Will it be worse than Medicare?

    • Hondo says:

      In a word, Ex-PH2: yep. IMO it will be so hastily executed and poorly planned that you can bank on the level of waste/fraud/abuse being obscene.

    • 68W58 says:

      There was an editorial last week in NRO which postulated that we might be better off to just offer Veterans some sort of long term health insurance when they left active service and come out better off than with what we spend on VA health care. At this point, I’m thinking there’s probably something to that.

    • rb325th says:

      Thing is, and I am sure you know this. It will not fix the problem.
      These problems exist at around 40 VA Hospitals. In many others the hospitals are operating outstandingly well…
      How is you can have some doing so well, and others doing so poorly within the same damned System?
      Leadership.
      Instead of fixing what is broken, those mangers decided to sweep it under the rugs so they could continue to get their bonuses. Their boss in DC decided willful ignorance was the best policy, despite the Administration being informed by the transition team in 2008 that there were strong indications that some VAMC’s were monkeying around with the numbers to get their performance bonus.
      You will never fix that kind of piss poor management by shifting patients outside the system.
      Also, as bad as the VA is, and as much as heads need to roll for it… the private sector produces roughly 165,000 Medical Malpractice Deaths per year. The known deaths at the VA only account for an infinitesimal percentage of those. Doesn’t make them right, but shifting patients to the private sector may not do too much for them either.
      Fix the damned mess and by whatever means necessary… like stopping “screw up and move up” promotions, and get rid of performance based bonuses. They should not be rewarded financially for doing their damned job. Obviously at some locations, the money was more important than actually finding ways to meet the goals.

      • Old Trooper says:

        I agree. Good comments.

      • Sparks says:

        rb325th…You brought out a good point. Before Shinseki resigns I hope he shows every document he pushed up to the White House about these problems to implicate Obama, who has more or less washed his hands of this like Pilate.

    • Sparks says:

      Ex-PH2 Well said. Plus try to find good private doctors and facilities who aren’t quacks or just as poorly run as the VA to take these veterans. Doctors don’t like Medicaid and Medicare now because of the sheer weight of government paperwork to get payed. That is when we see the Medicare fraud-mill clinics in full swing with one doctor, one nurse and a staff of fifteen who do nothing but churn the bogus paperwork.

  12. 68W58 says:

    Last year in her capacity as Deputy Assistant whatever whatever Joan Mooney made $155,500.00 http://www.fedsdatacenter.com/federal-pay-rates/index.php?n=mooney&l=&a=&o=&y=2013

    Anybody feel like that was money well spent?

  13. mike says:

    Sure it sounds good. But it’s meaningless unless these people are shitcanned, lose their pensions, and NOT just get rolled into another .gov job with the same or better pay. Anybody want to lay odds on that happening? I don’t believe there will be ANY consequences for these fucks.

    That said, I was at Jefferson Barracks VA yesterday. My first appointment there. I was perfectly well satisfied with my initial experience. Can’t say the same about every place I’ve been, but more good than bad.

  14. OWB says:

    Have said it before and will say it again:

    Step 1: Allow every at-will and union member in the VA system to resign. Those who do not resign within the time frame (should be no more than 72 hours) will be immediately investigated for fraud, and any other criminal charges.

    2. Those who voluntarily resign will not be criminally charged for their misdeeds, and may even reapply for their former position. Some of those who resign will be great employees (maybe) and can be reinstated, IF they have the recommendation of at least (pick a number, maybe 10 or 12?) veterans whom they have served in the previous month and pass additional background checks.

    3. Get a dozen or so of any of us veterans in a room somewhere, and we can ferret out the rest of the problems and offer solution. Probably take us less than 24 hours.

    4. Under no circumstances will any of the current bunch of Secretaries, under secretaries, assistants to the third deputy muckety muck, etc be allowed to be employed in any capacity or receive a federal check for anything other than any “earned” retirement that they may already have.

    5. No bonuses paid to anyone for anything. Excellent performance is the only allowable standard. Can’t measure up to excellence? Hit the road.

  15. Green Thumb says:

    Did anyone ask them why the DOJ is defending certain people within the VA?

    • OWB says:

      It was eluded to at least a couple of times, but not asked that bluntly, iirc. Someone asked why they need 700 lawyers at the VA, though. One DoJ comment was made in the same paragraph, if the same sentence, with a question about those 700 lawyers.

      • Green Thumb says:

        My best guess is the VA legal system is out of their element.

        Also, it creates a degree of separation.

        But in the end, the VA is scared “shitless” of having policy overturned and having to both conduct back audits and rewrite existing policy.

        Expensive and time consuming but it is the right thing to do.

  16. Kevin says:

    The two single payer systems the feds have are the VA and Indian Health Services aka “Don’t get sick after June”. They both are generally awful, with some bright spots and are what the lefties want to inflict on the entire US population.

  17. Just an Old Dog says:

    No acountability. If I owned a private business ( lets say a nation-wide Steak House chain) and I had an establishment that was losing me money and getting shit reviews and I sent one of my executives out to see what was happening I would expect more.
    When he came back I would ask him what happened, what was the plan of correction and who he fired and hired to replace them.
    If he came back and all he said was he talked with the staff and they all promised was “to serve the customer” Id throw his ass out the nearest exit with a pink slip.

  18. Just an Old Dog says:

    And the hits jut keep coming… this probably deserves its own thread.

    http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/05/29/wwii-vet-and-purple-heart-recipient-claims-va-took-68-years-to-give-him/

    • Isnala says:

      Just one more example of the problems @ the VA. Having read the article I think his ‘back pay’ was off by a few decimal points.

      -Ish

  19. jonp says:

    Everyone should be paying attention to this. This is what Obamacare looks like soon coming to every town near you.