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Godspeed, Sergeant Shaina Schmigel

Don't Let The Bergdahl @#$% Storm Distract from Fixing the V.A.

With all that's happening with Sgt Bowe Bergdahl, the media is definitely concerned with the "unexpected" blow back from the prisoner trade for Bergdahl.  

The problem with the Veterans Affairs issue is that it is only going to continue to get worse as investigations continue. 

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that there are discrepancies on wait times across every facility.  Well, no @#$%.  Also, I believe this is self-reported data.  Not real findings from an outside the VA auditor.  But it shows internal metrics identifying that Phoenix was a known problem.

The Phoenix facility at the heart of the crisis at the Department of Veterans Affairs is among a number of VA hospitals that show significantly higher rates of mortality and dangerous infections than the agency's top-tier hospitals, internal records show.

The criticism that precipitated last week's resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki has focused largely on excessive wait times for appointments across the VA's 150-hospital medical system.

But a detailed tabulation of outcomes at a dozen VA hospitals made available to The Wall Street Journal illustrates a deeper challenge: vastly disparate treatment results and what some VA doctors contend is the slippage of quality in recent years at some VA facilities...

Read the whole piece here.

Here's the deal.  There will be more and more HEINOUS actions uncovered during this period and the spotlight needs to remain on the VA.  I have heard rumors of investigators looking at hospital administrators covering up suicide numbers and deaths (like the ones reported above in the WSJ).  I wish it weren't true, but things look grim in many areas.  AND, AS MUCH AS CERTAIN GROUPS WOULD LIKE THIS TO BE JUST ABOUT THE PHOENIX VA FACILITY, IT IS NOT JUST PHOENIX!

This is an unfortunate time for the people in the VA that make a difference in the lives of our vets every single day.  Last week, I met an Army vet who went to my local VA hospital (Hines) for brain surgery and received the best care possible.  She had nothing but great praise for her VA experience.

The main problem with the VA or any other single payer system, is the lack of performance based retention.  US Rep Jeff Miller writes about this at Time and lays it out succinctly...something we said right here about the firing of GEN (ret) Shinseki as a baby step.

Any VA administrator who ordered subordinates to purposely manipulate appointment data should be fired immediately.

Unfortunately that is currently impossible due to indefensible civil service rules that put the job security of failing VA bureaucrats ahead of the safety of the veterans they are charged with serving. In his last speech as VA Secretary, Eric Shinseki essentially admitted this when he said he had “initiated the process for the removal” of the Phoenix hospital’s senior leaders...

It's going to get uglier before there's any improvement.  Buckle up.

Maybe the Obama Admin would be more focused on improving veterans care if we moved the Phoenix facility patients to Gitmo.