Amid public outrage over the deadly wait list manipulation scandal that consumed the federal Department of Veterans Affairs in 2014, politicians on both sides of the aisle demanded accountability and reforms. As usual, many Democrats blamed the agency's systemic corruption on funding shortfalls, which was an inaccurate red herring. Nevertheless, Congress allocated billions in additional dollars for the VA two years ago. A year later, wait times for care had gotten worse. CNN, which originally broke the VA corruption story, has summarized the findings of a panel tasked with evaluating the VA's progress -- and the picture they paint isn't pretty. Headline: "Billions spent to fix VA didn't solve problems, made some issues worse."
A commission tasked by Congress with trying to fix the troubled Veterans Health Administration has just concluded a damning report, finding that "many profound deficiencies" at the troubled agency "require urgent reform." The commissioners conclude, "America's veterans deserve a better organized, high-performing health care system." The report indicates the billions pumped into the VA since the wait-list scandal erupted two years ago have failed to relieve many of the problems in delivering health care to veterans. In some cases, the report points out where so-called improvements to the VA system may have actually made things worse.
Billions of taxpayer dollars squandered, having either "failed to relieve" or exacerbated the ingrained, sweeping flaws plaguing this government-run system. The full report is HERE. CNN's story goes on:
The report, obtained by CNN but slated for public release Wednesday, highlights a variety of "deficiencies" that contribute to health care issues within the agency, including flawed governance, insufficient staffing, inadequate facilities, antiquated IT systems and inefficient use of employees. The commission also criticized changes that have been implemented since the scandal became known, including the VA's Choice Program. The system was set up in 2014 to alleviate wait times by enabling veterans experiencing month-long delays or more to seek private care. The report states the program has only "aggravated wait times and frustrated veterans" due to confusing eligibility requirements and conflicting processes for coordinating with private health care providers. As a solution, the commission recommends establishing a "VHA Care System," which would function as a network of VA, Department of Defense and VA-approved private healthcare providers available to all enrolled veterans.
So bureaucratic red tape and confusing regulations hampered real progress for veterans. Go figure. Among other solutions, the commission suggested streamlining the process of allowing care-seekers to obtain access to private providers. The VA Secretary, who famously compared long waiting periods for healthcare to lines at Disney theme parks, said he's taking those recommendations under review. I'll leave you with two bigger picture notes: (1) Even as American voters continue to oppose Obamacare, a large number say they're open to a government-run regime. Conservatives resisting an even more widespread federal takeover of the healthcare system should constantly highlight the abuses and ineptitude at the VA -- which has been egregiously breaking the trust of so many of the men and women about whom there is a consensus that they've earned our help. The Left wants to inflict that totally unaffordable, unaccountable failure onto the entire population -- even after it's been once again demonstrated that "throwing money at the problem" doesn't work. In this case, it's deepened the problems. (2) Despite the bipartisan rhetoric on commitment to the VA, it's worth noting that both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders indefensibly downplayed the seriousness and breadth of the agency's malfeasance. They are too ideologically committed to the project of Statism to properly acknowledge, contextualize and fix flagrant, lasting troubles. I'll leave you with this haunting lede about the conclusions of an Inspector General report published late last year:
More than 300,000 American military veterans likely died while waiting for health care -- and nearly twice as many are still waiting -- according to a new Department of Veterans Affairs inspector general report. The IG report says “serious” problems with enrollment data are making it impossible to determine exactly how many veterans are actively seeking health care from the VA, and how many were.
Disastrous. Mrs. Clinton believes Obamacare -- this Obamacare -- is "working," but that the VA scandal is overblown. Think about that. In April, the GAO found that VA employees were still improperly tampering with wait time data. Regardless of what some politicians may say they believe, this national disgrace is very much ongoing.
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