Friday, April 08, 2016

Why Does VAgate Persist, Unreformed, To This Day? Because It's Single-Payer

by JASmius

Just a reminder that the uproar almost two years ago, the sacking of Veterans Affairs Commissar Erik Shinseki, the "reform" legislation that in reality just poured gobs and gobs more money into the same corrupt, failing government-run system, hasn't "reformed" a damn thing....:

Yet, two years after the VA scandal broke, no such restructuring or reform has occurred. Instead, almost nothing has changed at the failing [Commissaria]t of Veterans Affairs. VA officials have kept their jobs, and veterans continue to be treated like second-class citizens inside their own system. But after two years of committee hearings, two years of investigations, and two years of funding increases for the VA, how bad could it really still be? Judge for yourself. Today health-care wait times for veterans remain unacceptably high; in fact, they have gone up in many places.

Whistleblowers continue to say that records of VA wait times are still being manipulated across the country, with the VA’s own inspector general recently finding that over half of VA medical facilities investigated still use “improper scheduling.” On the benefits side, while the number of backlogged disability claims has come down, the wait for first-time applicants remains, on average, 389 days; it’s over 770 days in Baltimore and 630 days in Boston. Meanwhile, the backlog for appealed claims has skyrocketed to over 255,000 — and most of the veterans on that list have been waiting upwards of three years.

But don’t veterans now have health-care choice? No, they do not. Good legislation was passed in 2014: the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act, which gives veterans a temporary “choice card.” But the choice cards veterans actually receive are barely worth the cardstock they are printed on. Because of congressional restrictions and sheer VA bureaucratic obstinacy, use of the so-called choice card is extremely cumbersome and time consuming, leaving millions of veterans with a card, but still no timely or convenient choice. Worse, thanks to delays in VA payments, veterans who use the card are often stuck with big medical bills.

....and whistleblowers are still abused, punished, and fired with extreme prejudice, and the abuses on which they blow the whistle are not just ignored but covered up and protected:

Employees at the [Commissaria]t of Veterans Affairs who blew the whistle on the manipulation of scheduling data to falsely reflect shorter wait times are blasting investigations of their complaints, saying they were not thorough enough and the practice is still continuing in some VA facilities.

“My office has just been crazy busy with providers, schedulers, coming to me and saying, ‘Hey, we’re still manipulating, and the intimidation is still active,’ ” said Germaine Clarno, a social worker and union representative at a suburban Chicago VA Medical Center.

“I can promise you that it is still going on at facilities across this country,” said Shea Wilkes, co-director with Clarno of a group of more than forty whistleblowers from VA medical facilities in more than a dozen states.

There are many reasons why VA reform is impossible - pubic sector unions and even D.C.-based veterans groups, both of which have an overpoweringly vested interest in maintaining the status quo, come to mind - but the core barrier to changing the status quo is that the VA is single-payer socialized medicine, and therefore cannot be "reformed".  It must instead be abolished and its function privatized, or no aspect of this appalling scandal will ever change.  And the heat death of the universe will transpire before this genuine reform ever will.

And remember, folks: Trump, Hillary, and Bernie Sanders all want to force single-payer on us all.  Something Republican voters might want to keep in mind over the next couple of months.

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