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  1. #11
    Senior Member AirborneSapper7's Avatar
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    May 2007
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    Posted: 4:33 p.m. Friday, March 14, 2014

    Ga. Congressman says VA secretary should be fired for patient deaths

    Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki was on Capitol Hill on Thursday to testify before Congress about the VA budget.


    Reports show conflicting statements about patient deaths at Atlanta VA Medical Center

    New Atlanta VA Medical Center director speaks out

    Secretary of Veterans Affairs says changes have been made at Atlanta VA Medical Center

    Special Section: Atlanta VA Hospital Investigation

    Atlanta VA Hospital Stories

    By Justin Gray

    WASHINGTON — A Georgia congressman is reacting to an interview he saw Thursday on Channel 2 Action News.

    Channel 2’s Justin Gray spoke exclusively to the head of the Veterans Administration about the management problems at the Atlanta VA Medical Center linked to patient deaths.

    Gray talked to Rep. David Scott Friday in Washington, who is demanding that the VA secretary resign.

    Scott said he is not satisfied with the answers VA Secretary Eric Shinseki gave about the patient deaths at the VA hospital in DeKalb County.

    Scott has personally asked President Barack Obama to fire Shinseki.

    “How in the world can he even begin to say he has his hands on the problem when he hadn't even set foot there,” Scott said.

    Channel 2 action news was the first to report on Veterans Affairs department audits that linked the deaths of three vets to mismanagement in the mental health unit at the Atlanta facility.

    On Thursday, Shinseki told Gray the Atlanta VA is now in better shape.

    “I believe we have the right leadership in place and the appropriate changes are being made,” Shinseki said.

    But Scott said he thinks Shinseki himself and other top managers should lose their jobs.

    “The buck starts at the top,” Scott said.

    Sources tell Channel 2 Action News that seven staff members were given written reprimands. Two, including the hospital's director, retired.

    But Scott said that's not enough.

    “Those families right now have question marks as to whether they want their sons or daughters in the VA hospital and that is a damn shame,” Scott said.

    “Do you think heads should roll?” Gray asked.

    “Heads should roll, they should have been rolled,” Scott said.

    An audit by the VA's own inspector general found that the Atlanta VA Medical Center has completed seven of the 19 changes that were recommended after Channel 2's original investigation last year.
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  2. #12
    Senior Member AirborneSapper7's Avatar
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    When veterans become victims: Reform the VA now

    12:06 PM 04/14/2014

    It’s a story we’ve seen with numbing regularity: military veterans seeking care at a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health facility are met with bureaucratic malfeasance, substandard care, and delayed treatments. As a result, they face worsening health conditions … and even death.
    This time it’s out of Phoenix, Arizona, where recent news reports detail how mismanagement at the local VA hospital forced veterans into prolonged waits for treatment, leading to dozens of preventable deaths. It’s the latest in the long chain of evidence revealing that the VA is in dire need of managerial reform — now.
    The Phoenix scandal isn’t the first VA failure we’ve seen. In recent months alone, outrageous revelations of how VA dereliction resulted in veterans’ deaths have arisen in Pittsburgh, Pa.; Atlanta, Ga.; Charleston, S.C.; and numerous other VA facilities around the United States.
    Given how widespread the reports are, it’s not unreasonable to suspect the true number of preventable deaths is much, much higher than has been reported.
    In addition to the moral outrage, we should recognize that these are costly failures: in the decade after 9/11, the VA paid out more than $200 million to more than 1,000 grieving families to settle wrongful death cases, according to an analysis by the Center for Investigative Reporting.
    The Phoenix VA scandal would be disturbing enough if it were simply another story of veterans becoming victims due to bureaucratic ineptitude. But what makes the tale even more alarming is that the allegations suggest corruption and what may amount criminal fraud.
    According to Dr. Sam Foote, a retired VA doctor of internal medicine who is the whistleblower in the Arizona case, officials at the Phoenix facility kept two sets of records to hide the long wait times and to obscure the number of preventable deaths.
    The Arizona Republic’s report on the scandal notes that “Foote and other whistle-blowers said that Arizona VA executives collect bonuses for reducing patient wait times, yet purported successes stem from manipulation of data instead of improved service to ailing veterans.”
    So while veterans were waiting for treatment, growing sicker and dying, VA executives were reportedly falsifying records in order to inflate their bonuses and feather their own nests. It’s a case study in how a corrupt and dysfunctional bureaucracy can run amok. The question is, can the VA be fixed?
    We now know beyond a doubt that the VA will never address these problems internally; the department’s response to questions and criticism from outside its walls has been to hunker down, deny problems, and deflect responsibility.
    Could the impetus for change come from elsewhere in the executive branch? It’s doubtful. Although President Obama promised as a candidate to address VA’s failures, the fact is that the situation has grown only worse under his administration, which has shown little interest in reshaping the VA into the customer-service oriented agency it should be.
    Which means that the push for real change at the VA must come from Congress, the veterans community, and taxpayers who are fed up with supporting an agency that fails in its mission virtually every day. Fortunately, there are encouraging signs that this is happening.
    Members of Congress, both Republicans and Democrats, have begun to question the VA much more aggressively about its management practices (indeed, many of the allegations about the Phoenix VA were brought to light in an April 9 hearing of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs).
    They’re also demanding action, with 80 bipartisan co-sponsors for the VA Management Accountability Act of 2014, a bill that would empower the VA secretary to fire managers who don’t perform. This reform-minded legislation won’t address everything that’s wrong at VA, but it will offer a compelling first step to ensure that the department’s executives are held accountable for their failures. That’s why it has received the endorsement of numerous veterans’ advocacy organizations.
    With Washington D.C. frozen in gridlock and the two parties unable to agree on anything, could fixing the broken VA be the icebreaker? I certainly hope so. Because if there’s one thing we should all be able to agree on, it’s that our veterans should not become victims of an unfeeling and self-serving bureaucracy. No more delays — let’s start to fix VA now.

    Pete Hegseth is the CEO of Concerned Veterans for America, and a FOX News contributor. Pete is an infantry officer in the Army National Guard, and has served tours in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Guantanamo Bay.

    Tags: Center for Investigative Reporting, Department of Veterans Affairs, House Committee on Veterans Affairs, Sam Foote
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  3. #13
    Senior Member AirborneSapper7's Avatar
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    See Why Obama Cut $120 Million From Veterans’ Healthcare Coverage

    Posted on 2 May, 2014 by clyde

    More than 400,000 military retirees are about to be dropped from Tricare for Life’s prescription program.

    The change is part of the Department of Defense’s budget cuts. In 2014, the change will cut $120 million from the $3.3 billion DOD pays for military personnel’s prescription drugs.

    Tricare supplements Medicare’s prescription costs for approximately 2 million military retirees and their dependents. Nearly half of DOD’s annual budget—$3.5 billion— goes to the drug program.

    Tricare covers about 400 medications, mostly for chronic conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes. Lawmakers say it’s unnecessary to pay so much for these prescription drugs when many seniors don’t take them, or don’t take them correctly.
    MUST WATCH: Obama Refuses to Salute the United States Flag

    “A lot of people, they have medications that they just don’t take,” said John Norton of the National Community Pharmacists Association. “Or they have medication and they start to feel better, and they don’t take it to its conclusion.”

    Do you think this change will significantly impact seniors’ drug needs?
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  4. #14
    Senior Member AirborneSapper7's Avatar
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    Doctor Mengele At The VA?

    Darwin Rockantansky 3 hours ago

    Many may be familiar with the name of Doctor Josef Mengele, also known as "Todesengel" or "Angle of Death," who was the "medical officer" at the Auschwitz death camp.

    Although records do not support his supposed role as a "physician," they do show his role as "Director, Crimes Against Humanity" and "Shower Attendee Selector / Administrator." Basically, his primary role was to decide which "prisoners" should be sent to the "showers" (gas chambers) at any given cycle; i.e. to decide who should live and die on any given day.

    Based on recent revelations from the Phoenix, Arizona VA, I have developed a theory that the Veterans Administration may have its very own "Angel of Death"; if not in the form of a single person like the good Doctor Mengele, then as a firm policy - stated or implied.

    Just why would I come up with such a theory? It's because a similar "anomaly" in scheduling of appointments happened to me here in Las Vegas, Nevada.

    Let me preface my theory with a statement of fact that the Doctors and staff of the Las Vegas Veterans Administration Health Care operations have, as a group, been absolutely outstanding. Our new hospital is the state of the art and my current Primary Care Physician (PCP), Dr. Diaz of the South Clinic, is the best doctor I have ever had in my life. She is both caring and efficient. She wastes no time and at the same time is more thorough, knowledgeable, and insightful than any doctor I have ever had; perhaps because she is the first doctor in the V.A. system that I have had who is less than sixty years old.

    So having said all that, where do I come up with this theory of a "Doctor Mengele at the VA"?

    Although I do admit that I cannot count to twenty one in public without embarrassing myself, I do love working with numbers. I have always believed that if you give me enough numbers I can prove any theory you would like thanks to the scientifically accepted theory of "spurious data points"; i.e. if the numbers do not fit the theory discard them.

    Any "analysis" or "study" that does not have a large pool of data is considered invalid or in a best case scenario, specious. In this case, I have neither an "analysis" nor have I done a "study" but I do think that both are in order.

    Navy Veteran Thomas Breen is the "poster child" of the current feigned outrage by our "representatives" in Washington. The time span between when he was first seen for blood in the urine and the time he died was, but a couple of months with his follow up appointment a short time thereafter. My first thought was: Wow! That was fast (getting the appointment)! Next week I will be seen in a follow up appointment after only a four month wait.

    Now, here is where things get interesting and everything is based on anecdotal data which is easily dismissed but worth thinking about.

    Thomas Breen presented with blood in his urine and with a history of cancer. Most probable diagnosis to any medical professional or even the hospital janitor would be: Cancer - possibly / probably in an advanced phase.

    Hold that thought.

    A couple of years ago, before our new VA Hospital was open for business, I suddenly developed a rapidly growing lump in my neck that was becoming more and more painful every day. I have Agent Orange issues so alarm bells began going off in my head and that of my wife. Now at that time, the PCP would typically arrange for contracting imaging services from one of the many fine services here in Las Vegas and the patient would be seen within a seven day window. And initially, that is what happened to me. After an MRI proved nothing definitive my PCP (NOT Dr. Diaz) informed me that he "...had met the standard of care." Translation: The minimum required level of care had been provided and I should go take a hike.

    I was not satisfied with that response so I managed to see another doctor in the VA system who immediately ordered a biopsy - which is what I felt was in order.

    And here the plot thickens so pay close attention to timing and players in this tale.

    I was told that I would be contacted for a referral to a lab that does biopsies and I expected a contact within a week or so.

    Two weeks later I called the VA to see what the delay was as the lump continued to grow in size and pain level. I was assured that the request for referral had been sent to some new agency set up as a "clearinghouse" for all outside services. Sadly I do not recall the name of that agency.

    Two more weeks later I again called the VA and again was assured that the request for referral was awaiting action by an outside agency / clearing house.

    I want to point out that the people I dealt with at the VA were getting as frustrated as I was and they even resubmitted the request for referral.

    To make a long story short, it was nearly eight months later that in desperation I finally contacted a local TV station for help. I am guessing at this point, but I assume that they "did their homework" and made inquiries at the highest levels of the Nevada VA.

    The reason I make that assumption, is because shortly after contacting the local TV station I received a call out of the blue from the local Director of the Nevada V.A. That young man was as frustrated as everyone else I had talked to, but he was able to get me schedule for a biopsy within just a few days of our conversation.

    As I mentioned, this all occurred long before our new VA Hospital was in operation; we vets had access to the regular military hospital at Nellis Air Force Base at the time. When I went for a biopsy, the doctor who did the procedure had been imported from civilian practice in San Diego, California. And why was that? Because the doctor who would normally be assigned to do the procedure was on medical leave...for substance abuse rehabilitation.

    Now here is my theory:

    It would appear that the V.A. has initiated the precursor of the Obama-Care "death panels." Thomas Breen obviously had cancer. Given my symptoms and a history of Agent Orange issues, it was highly likely that I may have had cancer; and I thank God I do not.

    Cancer is very expensive to treat with only a minimal success rate. Ergo, put those veterans whose potential for high cost health care has been identified on these "phantom lists" and play the numbers that some high percentage of them will die off thus avoiding additional costs to the V.A.

    I would like to see someone with access to the raw data to do a good study on such things and see if there is any possibility that what we Veterans are seeing just might be true: Is there a "Doctor Mengele" in the VA making arbitrary decisions as to who will live to see another day and who will not - all in the name of cost cutting?

    Will that happen? Probably not. But if enough vets speak up, then perhaps there is a chance.

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  5. #15
    Senior Member AirborneSapper7's Avatar
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    Your Witnessing the Death Panels in Action

    Shame: Another VA Clinic Caught Falsifying Wait Time Records

    Guy Benson | May 05, 2014

    If you missed our original post about the VA scandal two weeks ago, go back and read it for some important background information. In short, CNN reported that officials at the Veterans Affairs Health Care system in Phoenix, Arizona maintained secret, off-book wait lists in order to hide appallingly lengthy wait times for care. Electronic records were deliberately manipulated (and in many cases, not kept) while paper trails were destroyed. When dozens of veterans died awaiting care, their files were just discarded -- as if they never even existed. Here's what I wrote on April 24th: "Those responsible for these shameful policies in Phoenix are criminals, and should be treated as such...The federal government ought to launch an immediate and unsparing investigation into the entire VA system to see if Phoenix's worst practices were adopted elsewhere. Accountability should be swift, thorough, and painful for the guilty. This cannot stand." My concern was that this brand of corruption might not be an isolated problem at one VA location; these system-gaming methods might be endemic. Worst practices sometimes have a way of spreading within bloated bureaucracies. Lo and behold, a new inquiry in Colorado has uncovered similar machinations (via Gabe Malor):

    A VA investigation of one of its outpatient clinics in Colorado reveals how ingrained the delays in medical care may be for an agency struggling to rapidly treat nearly 9 million veterans a year amid allegations that dozens have died because of delays. Clerks at the Department of Veterans Affairs clinic in Fort Collins were instructed last year how to falsify appointment records so it appeared the small staff of doctors was seeing patients within the agency's goal of 14 days, according to the investigation. A copy of the findings by the VA's Office of Medical Inspector was provided to USA TODAY. Many of the 6,300 veterans treated at the outpatient clinic waited months to be seen. If the clerical staff allowed records to reflect that veterans waited longer than 14 days, they were punished by being placed on a "bad boy list," the report shows. "Employees reported that scheduling was 'fixed,' " the findings say. Department officials revealed last month that 23 deaths of veterans were linked to delayed cancer screenings dating back four years. More recently, a retired doctor, Sam Foote, alleged that 40 other veterans died because of treatment delays at a VA hospital in Phoenix.

    The brass at the VA is still claiming that there's "no evidence" to support these sordid allegations, but the families of the dead and suffering may beg to differ. Note well that whistleblowers and investigators have now revealed strikingly similar numbers-fudging schemes at facilities in two different states. In Fort Collins, clerical workers were actually punished for maintaining accurate records. Keeping track of the truth landed clerks on a "bad boy list," as sick veterans languished. Meanwhile, three administrators at the Phoenix facility have been placed on leave pending a full investigation, including the director -- who has been linked to another controversy, and who raked in nearly ten grand in taxpayer-funded bonuses last year. House Speaker John Boehner is speaking out against the apparent abuses, calling for increased accountability, demanding a "complete and thorough" investigation by the VA's Inspector General, and recommending needed reforms to the system. As this story moves forward, I'll continue to make a point that ought to impact how we approach healthcare in America. The public has long been opposed to implementing a British or Canadian-style "single payer" system, in which the government controls and operates everything. Many Obamacare supporters, however, view the new overhaul as a stepping stone toward precisely that eventuality. They continue to cling to the dogma that a government takeover of the entire system would be a fair, equitable and desirable outcome. The VA is a government-run operation of limited scope that enjoys broad political support because Americans agree that our veterans have earned our help. Despite the consensus it enjoys, the VA is failing in its mission, and some of the bureaucrats who run it are employing subterfuge and chicanery to paper over those failures. Advocates for single payer shouldn't breathe one more word about foisting their costly experiment upon 300 million Americans until the VA is running flawlessly. And opponents of single payer should remind their fellow citizens that what's being covered-up at the VA has been playing out across the pond for years:

    The NHS’s medical director will spell out the failings of 14 trusts in England, which between them have been responsible for up to 13,000 “excess deaths” since 2005. Prof Sir Bruce Keogh will describe how each hospital let its patients down badly through poor care, medical errors and failures of management, and will show that the scandal of Stafford Hospital, where up to 1,200 patients died needlessly, was not a one-off...Warning signs were there for managers and ministers to see, including alarming levels of infections, patients suffering from neglect and appalling blunders such as surgery performed on the wrong parts of bodies...At the worst hospital, Basildon and Thurrock, the “mortality ratio” from 2005 until last year was 20 per cent above the NHS average, with up to 1,600 more deaths than there would have been if it had the average level of deaths among its patients. However, from 2005 until 2009 the hospital was given a “good” rating by NHS regulators

    They also leave patients twisting in the wind for hours, in an effort to maintain cosmetic adherence to rules that were designed to prevent abuses. There's nothing new under the sun.
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