January 21, 2020

Continuing problems at the VA

Timothy Birdnow

And the troubles continue at the VA.

From the article:

The inspector general's report based its conclusions on the region of VA hospitals that includes 1.6 million veterans across Florida, south Georgia, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. VA officials in that region referred more than 206,500 requests in 2018 for community care at clinics outside the VA network, with veterans facing a 56-day wait on average before receiving care, according to the report.

The problem is essentially that the VA is trying to put lipstick on a pig. When governments run things like health care they do a very poor job of it.

Our vets deserve better.

Posted by: Timothy Birdnow at 11:30 AM | Comments (9) | Add Comment
Post contains 114 words, total size 1 kb.

1 Cherokee Lizzie should have this jammed down her throat at every campaign stop, and asked how her Medicare For All will be one iota better.

Posted by: Dana Mathewson at January 21, 2020 02:31 PM (jvd0u)

2 Agreed.  This illustrates clearly the problems when a bureaucracy runs such a program.  It becomes a program for THEM and not the recipients.

Posted by: Timothy Birdnow at January 22, 2020 06:46 AM (cBBeO)

3 I'm of two minds on this. My experience with the VA medical system goes back about 30 years, and I found it to be excellent both technically and from the standpoint of the attitude of the caregivers. Further, I have several friends who are in the system now, and they have nothing but praise for it.

The problem is getting into it to begin with, and wait times, which lie at the feet of inadequate funding from Congress, and in the misery of Army record keeping and the Army medical system's inability to transfer records effectively. Getting into the VA from the Navy is vastly quicker and easier than doing so from the Army.

Then the issue of covering up wait times, and the cost to veterans that resulted. Yes, that is on the VA, but also on the media, which lurks like vultures looking for anything that allows them to attack an institution and paint it with the brush of evilness and ineptitude. They will take one flaw and blow it out of proportion to portray the entire institution as evil and corrupt. I'm not sure than I blame the administrators for trying to cover themselves from that, or at least not entirely.

The Iraq, and Afghanistan wars have flooded the VA not only with wounded veterans, but with injuries and wounds which take far longer to treat, in many cases requiring lifetime treatment. As the workload has increased Congress has not provided funding to scale up to the task, and so more and more veterans are being subcontracted out to the private medical system.

But if farmed out to the private system, these vets are still being taken care of, so excoriating the VA as uncaring and inept is inappropriate.

Posted by: Bill H at January 22, 2020 09:56 AM (vMiSr)

4 Bill, your last paragraph wraps the whole thing up perfectly and begins with the operative word BUT. And follows with the next perfect word IF. Too often the IF doesn't happen.

My beloved brother-in-law David (last name omitted to protect the innocent ) is a vet and lives in Fresno, CA. Within the past few months he has experienced some pain and problems in his shoulders and related areas, and the VA hospital in Fresno sent him to the one in Palo Alto, CA -- a drive of some 2 1/2 hours on a good day. And over a hundred bucks. Because the VA is part of the government, somehow what happens in Fresno stays in Fresno, and what happens in Palo Alto stays in Palo Alto; in other words, results of any test run on him in one of those facilities do not seem to get communicated to the other facility unless he makes a stink about it and demands paper copies which he then takes himself and delivers to the other facility. He has a dedicated doctor in one facility and one in the other, and they seem to spend half their time denigrating the work, and the recommendations, of the other.

A few months ago, the Palo Alto facility told him they needed him to go there for some tests -- which duplicated tests he'd had in Fresno, but "we really need you to come," and they made the appointment. So he drove up (see about for time and expense). When he got there, he was asked "What are you doing here?" Dave hit the ceiling, told the doctor "I am never coming up here again, everything that needs to be done can be done in Fresno, right?" "Yeah, I guess so." And from then on his doctor at the Fresno VA has done a fairly competent job of dealing with his problems.

What he really needs is acupuncture and a chiropractor, but that ain't gonna happen on the VA's dollar. And it won't happen on Cherokee Lizzie's Medicare for All, either, as we all know.

Bill, I'm very glad it's all working for you, and hope it continues!

Posted by: Dana Mathewson at January 22, 2020 11:37 AM (9yEgJ)

5 My father is a vet but he gave up on the VA a long time ago. He couldn't get in and when he did they told him to live with his problem (He needed several operations on his back/neck/shoulder, which he got outside of the VA and which restored his mobility. He would be an invalid now if he'd stayed with them.) 

I have a friend who is a doctor at the VA and he says there are a lot of good, dedicated people like himself (he's only part time there) but the system is so antiquated and designed to deny treatment to those who need it that it fails so many vets. He works there primarily out of altruism, while his "real" job is with Washington University.

At any rate, I think Bill's ambivalence is probably warranted, as the big problem is the problem of any overly large bureaucratic system. If you get the right people at the right time it'll go well for you. If not...

Posted by: Timothy Birdnow at January 22, 2020 04:25 PM (Ja5aj)

6 Yeah, as I said, I'm of two minds. It's been 30 years. As soon as I could afford private care I did so, because I am not a fan of sucking on the public teat. Just because I can doesn't mean I should. Old fashioned, but the man who raised me...

Bureaucracies which become overloaded become paralyzed. It's really more the fault of those who allowed it to become overloaded, which would be Congress, than it is of the people who staff the bureaucracy. Doesn't mean the people on staff are blameless, but...

Posted by: Bill H at January 22, 2020 05:31 PM (vMiSr)

7 Tim'll remember that I have been saying this for years: bureaucracies exist to employ the unemployable.

Posted by: Dana Mathewson at January 23, 2020 11:08 AM (3sQSm)

8 A hearty Amen to you both, Bill and Dana!

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