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When I read about the VA "scandal" involving alleged falsification of patient wait times and related issues, there is a tickle in the back of my head that says "don't forget the IRS, Benghazi and Fast and Furious "scandals."

Now no one with a  passing understanding of the VA would suggest that it does not have problems. It has always had problems. And while President Obama and Eric Shinseki have done much to improve the VA it still has funding, organizational and personnel issues that must be dealt with. And it may also have intentional misconduct by employees.

But it is important to keep in mind that according to the 2013 American Consumer Satisfaction Index patients at VA facilities express the same levels of satisfaction with their care as do patient in private facilities.

The [VA] health system earned overall satisfaction indexes of 84 for inpatient care and 82 for outpatient services, while the U.S. hospital industry earned scores of 80 and 83 in those categories, respectively.
In addition,
Veterans overwhelmingly expressed positive views about customer service at VA health centers, with more than 90 percent survey respondents indicating favorable opinions for inpatient and outpatient care.

Ninety-two percent of respondents said VA medical providers are highly courteous, while 91 percent said the same of appointment personnel. Additionally, more than 95 percent of the survey takers said they would use a VA medical center the next time they need care.

The President has said that if the allegations about falsified records prove true he will not stand for it. He assigned his Deputy Chief of staff to investigate the allegations and report to him promptly. The President is waiting for additional reports from the VA Inspector General and Secretary Shinseki. But he does not want to act until there are actual facts demonstrating misfeasance or malfeasance, and not just whistleblower allegations and newspaper accounts.

Not only is that what any sensible President would do but there is good reason for the President or anyone else to not jump to conclusions. Remember the allegations of political motivations in the IRS "scandal" that all of the media and the Republicans in Congress jumped on, allegations that far too many Democrats put credence into. Well, all of them proved to be false. But the political damage, which was in part abetted by Democrats, had already been done. The same type of hyperventilation surrounded the Fast and Furious non-scandal and the Benghazi non-scandal.

Once again, the VA has problems and the investigations will reveal some of them. But caution should be exercised before jumping to conclusions, and here's a little example as to why. The most explosive allegation so far is that forty veterans died while waiting for care. While the VA IG's investigation is not complete this is what he said at a House hearing last week

"We didn't conclude, so far, that the delay caused the death," said Richard Griffin at a Senate hearing Thursday on the state of the VA's health care. "It's one thing to be on a waiting list, it's another for that to be the cause of death."

Whistleblowers and the House Committee on Veterans Affairs have said as many as 40 veterans might have died while waiting for appointments at the Phoenix system. Mr. Griffin said his office was reviewing multiple lists of veterans whose deaths allegedly occurred while waiting for appointments.

His office has already reviewed 17 of these cases, Mr. Griffin said, and hasn't found a single instance of a patient death because of excessive wait time.

So when the news reports go ballistic, fed by Fox and their friends in Congress, thoughtful people should not get caught up in the frenzy. If there is proven wrongdoing or incompetence Democrats should be at the forefront of holding people accountable and solving the problem. But until then, remember IRS, Benghazi and Fast and Furious.

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Comment Preferences

  •  When EVERYTHING IS THE WORST SCANDAL EVER (8+ / 0-)

    Nothing is.

    People just stop paying attention to you.

    Hey, someone should write a cautionary fable about that....

    "Jika Anda membutuhkan produk untuk meningkatkan kualitas hubungan seksual Anda atau membutuhkan produk obat pembesar penis!" - Bintangpasutri

    by Fordmandalay on Sun May 25, 2014 at 12:49:00 PM PDT

  •  The agenda, same as it ever was, is simply (7+ / 0-)

    to "prove" that government run health care doesn't work. That government doesn't work.

    The scandals, such as they are, aren't about the quality of the health care the VA provides. As the survey stats in the diary demonstrate, the VA is at least comparable with other health care. The scandals are about scheduling irregularities.

    It's beyond deplorable that VA employees, caught between the rock of inadequate funding and staffing, and the hard place of skyrocketing enrollments, got "creative" with scheduling.

    But the scheduling difficulties are the symptom, not the cause. The cause, to no one's surprise, is government on the cheap.

    The scandal is insufficient revenue!

    War beats down, and sows with salt, the hearts and minds of soldiers." Brecht

    by DaNang65 on Sun May 25, 2014 at 12:57:26 PM PDT

    •  Yes revenue has always been (8+ / 0-)

      the biggest problem. The VA shifted from a mode of mostly treating vets with service connected disabilities to treating all vets, granted with a sliding scale based on need. And the Bush took us to war never planning for casualties. So an overloaded system was swamped. Funding has increased under Obama but not to requested levels.

      By all accounts Shinseki has done a great job and his dedication to the mission cannot be questioned. After all he lost part of a foot in Nam and credits the Army and VA with his recovery.

      Further, affiant sayeth not. 53959

      by Gary Norton on Sun May 25, 2014 at 01:26:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I wonder where the outrage is (8+ / 0-)

    For the thousands who are dying because of the refusal to expand Medicaid. They are in essence being told to wait, due to politics. Not even lack of funds. Just politics.

    The VA is quickly turning into a political football. The call for Shinseki' s head will grow, but nothing will be done to solve the basic problem, because it will turn into a fight about funding.

    It is wrong that any one is being denied
     access to healthcare, period, in a country that has the resources we have.

    Today's problems are yesterday's solutions. Don Beck

    by Sherri in TX on Sun May 25, 2014 at 01:10:58 PM PDT

  •  That's why it's wise to wait for the IG report (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gary Norton, VPofKarma, anon004

    which is due I think this upcoming week (some congressmen (including Dems) and talking heads like Chris Matthews are demanding people be fired now, before the IG report, and are pissed that the president is waiting on the IG report).

    Unfortunately, I've now lost faith in the competence of inspector generals, given the horrible job the IRS IG did.  He was asked by republicans in Congress to look into whether conservative groups received extra scrutiny when requesting tax immunity from the IRS.  The fool that is the IG in that case returned a report saying, "Yes, conservative groups received extra scrutiny".  And everyone assumed the IG had acted in good faith.  So the President asked for and received the resignation of certain people in light of that report, and other actions were taken.  

    Then, weeks later, it turns out that the IG did not even investigate as to whether liberal groups also received extra scrutiny, because, "Well, Congress didn't ask me to look into that."  In other words, this guy didn't do a competent investigation/audit.  Any investigator that is competent would look into not whether conservative groups received more scrutiny, but whether conservative groups received more than liberal groups as well as more than non-political groups.  Had that moron IG included in his initial report that liberal groups also received extra scrutiny, that issue would have gone away right then.

    So, even when the IG report regarding VA comes out, I don't know whether to trust that the report was the result of a competent investigation by a competent IG or not.

    •  Agree, but I fault the Democratic members (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VPofKarma, anon004

      of the Committee for not pointing this out on day one of the hearings. If they had, the entire episode would have been different. But at the beginning they had the same IRS fever as the Republicans.

      Further, affiant sayeth not. 53959

      by Gary Norton on Sun May 25, 2014 at 03:23:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The VA IS a scandal as is the IRS (0+ / 0-)

    Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn.

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