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Looks like we have a deal to do at least something in response to the Department of Veterans Affairs fiascos.
Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a Vietnam War veteran, announced the compromise on the Senate floor.

The legislation allows the construction of 26 major medical facilities in 18 states around the country and authorize $500 million in unobligated funds to hiring new doctors and health care providers. More facilities and more doctors will mitigate the long waiting times facing veterans. The legislation would also include a two-year trial program to make it easier for veterans to seek private care if VA care is inaccessible, as well as grant greater authority to the VA secretary to fire senior executives.

Whether Republicans will go along with the plan—previous attempts to allocate additional funds to the VA were filibustered—remains to be seen.

Originally posted to Hunter on Thu Jun 05, 2014 at 01:04 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Similar to the Sanders legislation that a minority (24+ / 0-)

    of senators (41) successfully filibustered in February. After the GOP's tough talk the last couple weeks about "honoring vets," let's hope a handful of them join the majority of senators and pass this bill. I'm not holding my breath; the hypocrisy has been running deep this week.

    Arizona meet-up, July 27 in Phoenix. Meet Navajo! Send me Kosmail.

    by Mother Mags on Thu Jun 05, 2014 at 01:18:58 PM PDT

  •  In the meantime, perhaps McCain and his GOP (15+ / 0-)

    brethren can donate some of their personal $ millions directly to V.A. facilities that distribute clothes, toilletries, and other items to homeless and low income vets.
      That's what I do, but I can only afford a few $s no and then.

    My Karma just ran over your Dogma

    by FoundingFatherDAR on Thu Jun 05, 2014 at 01:22:51 PM PDT

  •  I'll believe this when I seeit passed and signed (8+ / 0-)

    into law. Even if this gets by the Senate filibuster, who in  their right mind believes the House will  pass this and give the Vets  relief. This would be hailed as a success during the Obama presidency and we all  know we can't have that!

    I give this bipartisan  approach 3 days before  it is scuttled and am only giving it three days because the pea brains  in the republican house can't have more than one thought at a time and  we still have days of Bergdahl insanity to get though.

  •  That sounds like a reasonable bill (8+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cjtjc, lgmcp, sea note, Aunt Pat, meg, bobatkinson, Piren, SGA

    If it or something similar doesn't pass, no astute person would touch the job of running the VA with a ten foot pole.  

    Accepting a job when the resources provided to do that job are grossly inadequate is dumb.  Accepting it when you're tacitly expected to cover up the failure, presumably by lying, is dumber.  And if you're going to be the one to take the fall when the failure becomes obvious, accepting that job is one of the dumbest things I can imagine.  

    We're all pretty strange one way or another; some of us just hide it better. "Normal" is a dryer setting.

    by david78209 on Thu Jun 05, 2014 at 01:29:23 PM PDT

  •  Let the GOP filibuster this one. I can almost s... (10+ / 0-)

    Let the GOP filibuster this one. I can almost see their hopes of winning in 2014 getting flushed down the loo...


  •  You have to deal with McCain in lucid moments. (6+ / 0-)

    He tends to forget his positions on lots of stuff lately...

    cheerleaders need not apply.

    by kravitz on Thu Jun 05, 2014 at 01:44:42 PM PDT

  •  THAT'S GREAT NEWS!!!FOR JOHN McCAIN!!!!!1!!!111!!! (6+ / 0-)

    Whoever he is....

    "If this Studebaker had anymore Atomic Space-Age Style, you'd have to be an astronaut with a geiger counter!"

    by Stude Dude on Thu Jun 05, 2014 at 01:46:38 PM PDT

  •  McCain gives the plan a lot of cover (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aunt Pat, lgmcp, Piren

    There may yet be enough moderate Republican Senators to break a filibuster on this legislation, but I wouldn't give it much of a chance in the House.

    The Stars and Bars and the red swastika banner are both offerings to the same barbaric god.

    by amyzex on Thu Jun 05, 2014 at 01:48:18 PM PDT

  •  It will pass (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mjd in florida, hbk, Aunt Pat, lgmcp, Piren
    The Sanders-McCain bill includes a House-passed provision that would grant the VA Secretary greater authority to fire senior executives. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., introduced a mirror provision in the Senate, and lauded the package which has the support of veterans' groups.
    The GOP hates spending (supposedly), but they love firing government bureaucrats more.

    In all seriousness I am happy to see a provision which will allow whoever comes in to take over more authority to thin out the dead wood and obstructors who would try and stand in the way of much needed reforms within the VA.

    Frankly that's more important at this point than the meager extra money they appropriated.

    They need to bring someone in who knows what he's doing, and then give them the authority needed to implement solutions that doesn't get tied up in red tape or procedure.

    Whenever change comes there is always a contingent invested in the status quo and keeping their present power, so by empowering a new leader with better tools to make change we might actually have some hope for once something could happen instead of years of talking about it with little action.

    Our local paper in Cleveland The Plain Dealer had an article on the front page yesterday that Cleveland Clinic President Tobey Cosgrove is being seriously considered to run the VA.

    Seeing how he has grown the Clinic he would be an excellent choice, and if they put a guy like that in charge and get out of the way good things are going to happen.

    •  No, it won't. You're missing the point. (0+ / 0-)
      Frankly that's more important at this point than the meager extra money they appropriated.
      I doubt the the House will appropriate ANY money to the VA seeing as they couldn't even come up with their own budget some months back.
      They need to bring someone in who knows what he's doing, and then give them the authority needed to implement solutions that doesn't get tied up in red tape or procedure.
      Are you really that naive as to think that the new head of the VA is going to have the authority to cut through the red tape and bureacracy that's built up over all the VA hospitals in the country?  From what I've hears, the Phoenix VA was operating like a little fiefdom.  Now multiply that by a couple of dozen. Your "solution" is simplistic and idealistic and frankly, won't happen.
      •  Rome wasn't built in a day (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        John in Cleveland, Piren

        or remodeled in a day, either.  No doubt it's true that profound institutional change will prove an elusive goal.

        But we gotta start somewhere.  Money and a management shakeup seems to be a logical approach.  What would YOU recommend, if you had your druthers?

        "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

        by lgmcp on Thu Jun 05, 2014 at 03:30:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Of course Phoenix VA was operating (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mmacdDE, lgmcp, SGA

        as a little 'fiefdom'. All the major VA facilities operate that way. The alternative is to attempt to micromanage individual hospitals from the VA Headquarters. That would be a real recipe for disaster.

        There are 'obstructors' and 'dead wood' and ineffective managers in any large organization. There is no particular reason to suspect the VA is cursed with more than their share.

        The larger picture is that where the VA is operating facilities with a manageable case load (a large part of the country) the wait times are reasonable, and usually less than wait times for an appointment with private doctors in the same area. And patient satisfaction for those vets who are in the system tops the charts. This is not a sign of poor managers and 'deadwood'. This is a sign of lack of capacity.

        What do you think should have happened when Shinseki was kneecapped by Republican legislators failing to fund the VA properly? Gone on a road show to campaign against them? Written weekly or daily OP EDs to all the major MSM papers in the country? Somehow gotten himself ensconsed as a Sunday Talk Show regular, like Johnnie TwelveHouses?

        That kind of activism on the part of a cabinet secretary would have gotten him canned a lot quicker than this did.

        "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

        by Orinoco on Thu Jun 05, 2014 at 03:57:56 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Plus it gives the House an in for a privatization (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aquarius40, lgmcp, Piren

    scheme--they'll use the "veterans will be able to get private care" bit as an excuse to privatize the whole thing.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Thu Jun 05, 2014 at 02:18:57 PM PDT

    •  It's bait (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      meg, Piren, SGA

      but yeah, the slope is a slippery one.

      Plus, veterans really do need care right now, and building new hospitals takes time, as does overhauling inefficient systems to make them hum.  Some practical solution for catching up on the backlog is necessary.  

      "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

      by lgmcp on Thu Jun 05, 2014 at 03:32:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Phase II: $11 Billion for Pentagon System (0+ / 0-)

      An epic fail of an electronic health system run by the pentagon went 2,300% over budget (yes, percent), took 6 years longer than planned, then failed to meet performance specs.  The expected cost bloomed to $28 billion and over a billion was spent before it went into the trash can.  (and we got 24/7 rants about a pathetic $300 million pittance on the ACA web site, pfft...)

      Call in the fortune 10 consultants, Time to Start Over.  Proposed:  $11 billion for an electronic health records system for about 10 million military personnel.  Partially operational by 2017, fully implemented by 2023.  Doing the math, works out to $1,100 per person to maintain medical records.  If it handles 10 million, why not make it handle 300 million?  The rest of us paying for it don't pass a citizenship litmus test so we get left by the roadside?

      No wonder there's opposition, this current VA issue is a pile of smoke and mirror distractions to cover the filling up of a feeding trough with blank checks for the politically connected.  Last on the list of beneficiaries will be the vets, but at least they're on the list thankfully.

      •  The dumb thing is (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        the top-rated EHR system ALREADY covers half the population of the country, and I'm betting they could roll it out to the military for a heckova lot less than $11 billion.

        In general, I'm against privatizing essential government functions, but this is just reinventing the wheel.

  •  There is a sure way to make this bill pass (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    1greybeard, lgmcp

    The President should threaten to veto it. At that point it will sail through congress.

  •  Ywannnnn!! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Congressional deals are nothing more then waving that false flag of patriotism that so many do, and Don't Demand They Should Sacrifice, decades now and wars from while easily ignoring the issues a result of and Especially this past decade plus, two tax cuts came with both and huge ones for the wealthy who reaped more wealth from their investments in!!!!

    VA 'scandal'? It's the Country Served and Their Representatives 'SCANDAL'

    The Country that 'Talks the Talk' but rarely 'Walks the Walk', patriotism posers who loves the free wars and ignore any sacrifice as to the long term results from, while ignoring the many issues of Veterans, those that served them, especially as a result of our wars, their representatives leading that ignoring while attacking the under funded VA, decades now and wars from, they control the purse strings of the Country!

    "If military action is worth our troops' blood, it should be worth our treasure, too; not just in the abstract, but in the form of a specific ante by every American." -Andrew Rosenthal 10 Feb. 2013

    by jimstaro on Thu Jun 05, 2014 at 02:44:01 PM PDT

  •  McCain does have occasional flashes (0+ / 0-)

    of not being a total jerk.

    I hope he has enough conscience left to feel like a shit about piling on for Bergdahl.  Maybe a few new VA hospitals will be the result of him feeling a little guilty.

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Thu Jun 05, 2014 at 02:48:00 PM PDT

  •  I wonder. How long before (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    McCain gets "convinced" by his caucus to jump ship and actually supports a filibuster?  

    Dick Cheney was completely wrong about Iraq, and we are still struggling with the aftermath of what Dick Cheney and his crew thought was the right policy: To go in and start a war of choice for the wrong reasons. -- John Kerry

    by Its the Supreme Court Stupid on Thu Jun 05, 2014 at 02:51:53 PM PDT

  •  I received an email from Johanns (NE) (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Orinoco, Piren

      detailing his demands - which sound like a privatization.

         1.   Appointment delay - > 2 weeks
         2.   located > 40 miles from treatment center   conditions that will allow Vets to choose 'other healthcare".

        He is a co-sponsor of GOP plan (Veterans Choice Act).

         I have great healthcare insurance, so someone else needs to weigh in on how long it takes to get an appointment.   Is 40 miles too much, too little?   I looked at the Nebraska population density map and the number of VA hospitals=3 ( no clinics).  

          Among all the let's burden everyone with more tasks / reports etc, it seems like he is engaging in a "lets set up a system designed to fail'.  


    •  I'm not sure the 'privatization' details matter (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      meg, Piren, SGA

      too much, as long as the new clinics get built. Then the privatization greedheads will see an exodus of vets from the private providers to the new VA facilities.

      My VA doctor likes to see me twice a year. Last time I got a note it was time to schedule an appointment, the first available was eight weeks away. But the VA's emergency room feeds straight in to the main hospital, so if something bad happens to me health wise, the wait time would be however long it took me to get myself there.

      The VA doesn't do "stabliize the patient and release" as regular emergency rooms do. They "stabilize the patient and treat until cured". That's a world of difference.

      I also have a nurse practitioner and a nurse who work with my doctor, who I can get a hold of anytime. If they decide I need to be seen quickly, I will be seen quickly. Like, the next day.

      The problem in Phoenix, and elsewhere this situation has cropped up, is in initial intake appointments. It's a minor inconvenience for me to wait two months for a semi-annual check-up. It might be life threatening for a newly returned vet with some serious undiagnosed condition to wait that long.

      More doctors and more facilities in locations where vets live is the solution.

      "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

      by Orinoco on Thu Jun 05, 2014 at 04:15:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  McCain in Kahoots with Socialist (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    That's what the headline should read.

    And the article should open with:

    Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who withstood years of torture and abuse at the hands of Communists in Viet Nam as a prisoner of war, has capitulated to the insidious machinations of the liberal democrat socialist Bernie Sanders (D-VT).  Sanders doesn't even hide behind the smokescreen of "democrat" and "liberal" and "progressive" but openly calls himself a socialist.  If they can break John McCain, who withstood the minions of Marxist dictator Ho Chi Minh, they can break anyone.  Freedom is officially dead in what is now The People's Democrat Republic of America.

    (I hope the snark was clear...)

  •  Will it pass the house or is it just fuck (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    With vets just 'cause bill.

    I voted Tuesday, May 6, 2014 because it is my right, my responsibility and because my parents moved from Alabama to Ohio to vote. Unfortunately, the republicons want to turn Ohio into Alabama.

    by a2nite on Thu Jun 05, 2014 at 02:57:25 PM PDT

  •  Since there are parts of this which work (0+ / 0-)

    Cruz will filibuster this instantly because it would spend money and increase a government agency's size. If it completely privatized the VA, well THEN it would be fine to spend any amount of taxpayer money to get 'er done.

  •  Why! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Why would the Republicans ever want to do anything that makes government function better?

    Why would the Republicans ever want to do anything that could ever possibly solve a problem that they created?

    Why would the Republicans ever want to do anything that President Obama might be able to claim as an accomplishment?

    I doubt it!  I will only believe it when I see it!

    Voters should select people to represent them in their government. People in government should not select people who may vote!

    by NM Ray on Thu Jun 05, 2014 at 03:05:15 PM PDT

  •  26 new facilities? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JohnnySacks, Orinoco

    Hire the specialists and staff needed and update the existing facilities to handle the influx of all of these returning veterans since they deserve the best care.

    But building 26 new facilities in 18 states just sounds like a big old pork pie to me. Cut costs by farming out primary care to the private sector as every vet is entitled to healthcare but not every vet requires a specialist.

    •  How Long to Build a 'Facility'? (0+ / 0-)

      Answer: years

      It's pork of the absolute worst sort because these folks need action NOW, not years in the future after a wagon train of corrupt pieces of shit steal all the resources and leave the vets begging at the back of the line.  The facilities will be a combination of shabby Walter Reeds and Taj Mahals with no money left in the budget to staff up properly.

    •  The existing facilities were built to serve (0+ / 0-)

      Veterans from 20 to 30 to 40 years ago. There have been what the military calls 'force realignments' since then.

      As an example: Long Beach has an excellent VA hospital, and several branch clinics. Long Beach used to be home to the Long Beach Naval Shipyard. Ships went to Long Beach to be refitted, and their crews got to know the area. Lot of former sailors retired in and around Long Beach.

      Long Beach Naval Shipyard closed. Sailors don't get stationed here any more, at least, not the same numbers as in the day. So fewer retire here, or live here when they get out of the service.

      On the other hand, Arizona has been successful in marketing itself as a retirement destination, and as a result, a lot of retired vets have made their home there.

      Putting new facilities where the vets are makes a lot more sense than farming them out to private practitioners, except as a temporary expedient until the new hospitals are built and open for business.

      "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

      by Orinoco on Thu Jun 05, 2014 at 04:25:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Wake me if hell freezes over. n/t (0+ / 0-)

    "Life is short, but long enough to get what's coming to you." --John Alton

    by Palafox on Thu Jun 05, 2014 at 03:42:28 PM PDT

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