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Last night, Jon Stewart looked at some of the outdated technology that's been plaguing the VA.

If only there was some visual representation of how responsibility for this mess is batted back and forth between Congress and the VA. Perhaps utilizing technology the VA would be comfortable operating.
Video and transcript below the fold.


We know about the VA backlog, and how President Obama promised to fix it back there in whaddaya call it there, '08. And how before that, George Bush had promised to fix it, and before that, well, I guess it's been summed up by Harry S. Truman. Harry S. Truman, who said in 1945 — this is true — five weeks after he took over for Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who had died of a brain hemorrhage when he tried to wrap his mind around the VA. FDR. Polio? No problem. Depression? No problem. Hitler, Tojo?  No problem.  VA?  (brain explodes)

Anyway, as Harry Truman said, quote:

HARRY S. TRUMAN (5/15/1945): The Veterans Administration will be modernized... as soon as possible, but I can't do it immediately.
(audience laughter)

Truman!! The guy who was able to harness the power of the atom! The guy with whom the buck stopped. Couldn't make a dent in the VA.

Well, the VA's gotten away with it for a pretty long time. But guess what, faceless bureaucracy? You just stepped in shit's creek without a can of whoop ass.  (audience laughter) Gotta get better at metaphors. Cuz all your shenanigans attracted some, what I think you'll find, unwanted attention.

JOHN SEIGENTHALER (6/9/2014): Members of Congress are holding a rare nighttime hearing to tackle one of the biggest scandals ever to hit the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Oh shit!! You in trouble now, motherfuckers!!!! (audience cheering and applause)

Congress is holding a hearing on your ass! And not just a hearing, a night hearing!  Congress After Dark! When your typical do-nothing bumbling Congress transforms into BatCongress.

"I'm BatCongress." To the low approval rating mobile!

REP. CORINNE BROWN, D-FL (6/9/2014): A lot of the equipment, the technology that the veterans have, is outdated. ... Could that affect part of the scheduling problems?
(surprised audience laughter)

Hm, what an apt, non-grandstandy question, delivered in a subdued manner.  Interesting. Obviously, technology changes rapidly. The systems are probably slightly out of date there. That could have an effect. Perhaps the VA's laptops and iPads are still running on Panther, when they should be running on OS Maverick. Answer the question.

PHILIP MATKOVSKY, ASST. DEP. VA UNDER SECRETARY (6/9/2014): Our scheduling system scheduled its first appointment in April of 1985. It has not changed in any appreciable manner since that date.
(audience laughter)

First of all, is the VA really represented by one of the undead? Second of all....  (audience laughter) "It has not changed. It still wants... brains."

But seriously, though. 1985?? You're running OS Tandy-1000? Your system can't process claims, but it can print an all-text picture of Snoopy.

1985?? Are you kidding me? Have you ever caught the movie The Net on late night cable, and laughed out loud alone about how outdated the technology seems?

That's 10 years more advanced than what the VA is currently using.  (audience laughter) I mean, that's pow! Let me ask you a question. Where's the Office of the Inspector General on this? Does the VA have an Inspector General? Or is it just a pumpkin in a hat?

Come on! Issue a report!

RICHARD GRIFFIN, VA ACTING INSPECTOR GENERAL (6/9/2014): Since 2005, the OIG has issued 18 reports that identified, at both the national and local level, deficiencies in scheduling resulting in lengthy wait times and a negative impact on patient care.
Oh, that's two reports a year on the problem. Uh, Congress, do you have anything to say on that?
REP. GUS BILIRAKIS, R-FL (6/9/2014): Mr. Griffin, uh, sir, in your testimony, you stated that OIG has issued 18 reports that identified deficiencies in scheduling within the VA since 2005. Can you elaborate on some of the recommendations identified within your reports?
Oh.  Elaborate on them.  Well, there's 18 of them, it sounds pretty fucking elaborate.  "Sir, I know you've sent the reports to Congress, and I'm in Congress, but there's something I need to tell you. I can't read. I'm so ashamed. Whenever I go out to eat, I have to go to Denny's because I have to point to the pictures. It's just Grand Slam after Grand Slam."
6/9/2014:

REP. JACKIE WALORSKI, R-IN: Did those IG reports never make it to you?

PHILIP MATKOVSKY: In response to that GAO report, we went back and looked at how we computed the wait times for veterans who were new to the clinic.

REP. JACKIE WALORSKI, R-IN: Can you say that today that that's a failure, what you guys did at an intermediary level was a failure?

PHILIP MATKOVSKY: I would say that we did not know at that point in time, Congresswoman, the nature and the scope of the problem.

I'm going to kill somebody.

If only there was some visual representation of how responsibility for this mess is batted back and forth between Congress and the VA. Perhaps utilizing technology the VA would be comfortable operating.

"Well, here we go.  I read the report, and didn't...."
"Oh, perhaps you can read the report, and then...."
"OK, maybe if we all need to read the reports, and then we could go through...."
"The Congress is really the issue...."

(freezes to watch the game)

I used to play that for hours.

Jordan Klepper then looked at how some Northwestern football players want to unionize.

Meanwhile, Stephen noticed there's been a possible Turing test breakthrough, and noted the horrific danger we're all in as a result.


He then had another Sport Report segment on the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Stanley Cup.

Jon talked with wartime documentarian Sebastian Junger, and Stephen talked with director John Waters.

Originally posted to Electronic America: Progressives Film, music & Arts Group on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 05:30 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  WE, i.e. the people, BROKE IT DECADES AGO!!! (5+ / 0-)


    And by doing so any problems in a much needed growth agency, especially with them poser patriotism flag wavin wars we don't pay for, are compounded and while grossly under funded brings on more problems!!

    By the way, Congress is Us and especially the 99% served!!

    "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 Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 06:42:37 AM PDT

    •  And Stewart (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Vetwife, Texknight


      Well he's been in that extremely high income range throughout these two wars, not paid for, and them big bush tax cuts to them way up there!!

      Everyone else below them pretty much blew theirs in the first and second fillup to go shopping, and buying products like food, as with them came rapidly rising fuel prices never to return to them days before!!

      "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 Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 06:49:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Again, and this is really important: (7+ / 0-)

    Two new wars started in the last decade, adding hundreds of thousands of vets to the system, without new facilities or an increase in staff. You think that might cause a scheduling backlog?  Supervisors' performance pay based on shorter wait times.  You think that might lead to falsifying records?

    AND -- patients can come to their VA emergency rooms 24/7 and be seen and evaluated and treated.  And they do.  There are daily walk-in clinics as well.

    None of this is to say that there's no backlog or that there are no administrative difficulties; that there's also a huge delay in processing applications for entry to the VA system, which comprises several different agencies, is well-known. But there's NEVER ENOUGH FUNDING and that's the fault of Congress.

    Ask most vets, and they'll tell you that they like their VA healthcare. Shinseki is a really good guy who took the fall for problems that started decades ago and were exacerbated under W.  

    Full disclosure: hub is a VA doc for over 20 years.  I get all hopped up -  and yes, defensive -- about this.

    Remember. Bring them home. ● And he reminds me that we are playing a long game here … and that change is hard, and change is slow, and it never happens all at once -- Michelle Obama.

    by edsbrooklyn on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 06:59:43 AM PDT

    •  My husband, a "Nam" vet (8+ / 0-)

      goes to the local VA clinic.  THE NEAREST VA ER is Gainesville, FL..65 miles away...  Our clinic has 5 doctors; they have appointments scheduled all day, and they TRY to work in 2 non-emergency, but sick patients, TOTAL a day!  Computer system was down 2 weeks ago, and DH had the first appointment.  ALL had to be cancelled that day, plus all lab draws, etc...so we sat there and talked to the doctor and we TALKED.  We asked questions and he answered.  
      FIRST:  he is able to see 12 patients a day because the paperwork is so involved and they each have to do all of their own.  Private practice doctors average 20 a day, and can handle walk-ins.  The outlying clinics can't.  THEY WANT AN ACUTE CARE FULL TIME DOCTOR!

      SECOND:  many clinics don't even have doctors so patients have blood draws and then must go 2 or more hours to the nearest hospital for a PC appointment.  I have friends in that situation now...in Texas.  We don't expect specialty clinics in every outpatient clinic location, and ours happens to have some that come in on a weekly or monthly schedule.

      Third:  They can't find enough doctors and nurses to do the staffing.  And, many they get are temps who move from clinic to clinic, so you cannot establish a relationship with a doctor at the clinics.  

      Fourth:  computer equipment and programs are horribly outdated.  New people coming in cannot get their records from the military/medical from military.  

      Fifth:  my observation...why is the VA hiring outside contractors to do the security at the clinics and hospitals?  Why not put some of the veterans who need jobs and can be certified, to do security at the clinics until their time in the military is up?  

      •  All these are excellent points. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BOHICA

        We live in New York City, and there are three hospitals, a few clinics, and a nursing home here, so our experience, and that of the vets served here, is different. There's still a shortage of doctors, though, and that's been problem for a long time.

        I didn't ask my husband about scheduling software (and he hasn't seen this Daily Show piece), but I do know that the VA has electronic medical records, which assists greatly in note-taking and continuity between the services and the facilities.

        As far as I know, the VA police are still hard at work in the NYC hospitals, but I don't know about elsewhere.

        Remember. Bring them home. ● And he reminds me that we are playing a long game here … and that change is hard, and change is slow, and it never happens all at once -- Michelle Obama.

        by edsbrooklyn on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 01:25:08 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Mainframe with a Pretty GUI interface (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    middleagedhousewife, MKinTN

    My Dad goes to the Brooklyn VA and I've seen it first hand

    I want 1 less Tiny Coffin, Why Don't You? Support The President's Gun Violence Plan.

    by JML9999 on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 09:50:28 AM PDT

  •  Another view. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    middleagedhousewife, elfling, MKinTN

    I've been going to the Roudebush VA hospital (Indianapolis) for care for the last 10 years.  

    Yes, it sometimes takes a month or two to schedule a visit, but emergency room services are always available at the VA.

    I had a heart attack 2 years ago.  The care was immediate, excellent and followup visits were frequent and thorough.  Services were provided both by VA staff and IU doctors.

    I've been exposed to Agent Orange and have a service-connected disability.  The care under my PA is outstanding in my opinion.

    The only process that seems to take a lot of time is getting through the disability compensation process.  That can take years for some folks.

    I know all VA clinics and hospitals are not up to this standard, but I think the Roudebush hospital is doing a great job.

  •  So was Phil Longman... (0+ / 0-)

    ...a dupe, or a liar?

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