Another Fucking Disgrace

Good grief:

At least 40 U.S. veterans died waiting for appointments at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care system, many of whom were placed on a secret waiting list.

The secret list was part of an elaborate scheme designed by Veterans Affairs managers in Phoenix who were trying to hide that 1,400 to 1,600 sick veterans were forced to wait months to see a doctor, according to a recently retired top VA doctor and several high-level sources.

My first instinct is to hang them all, followed up by “WHY THE FUCK ARE THEY NOT GIVEN MORE RESOURCES IF THEY HAVE THIS KIND OF BACKLOG?” And then I remembered that the people who like to create veterans the most really kind of hate them just for existing and costing money.

94 replies
  1. 1
    Keith G says:

    Again…this is the type of thing that will only be addressed if a political party (or groups within a party) continually and aggressively confront.

    Name and shame…Name and shame. At every speech, at every event, at every interview. All politicians, even BHO, depend on the impaired attention span of the American public.

  2. 2
    Baud says:

    Why are you linking to an article from 2008?

    February 27, 2014, 02:44 pm
    GOP blocks veterans bill
    Senate Republicans stopped Democrats from advancing a bill that would have expanded healthcare and education programs for veterans.

    In a 56-41 vote Thursday, the motion to waive a budget point of order against the bill failed, as Democrats fell short of the 60 votes needed to overcome the Republican roadblock.

    GOP Sens. Dean Heller (Nev.) and Jerry Moran (Kan.) voted with Democrats.

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) refused to allow a GOP substitute amendment to get an up-or-down vote because it included Iran sanctions, which he said were unrelated to veterans’ issues.
    …..
    “This bill proposes to spend more than we agreed to spend,” Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said before raising the budget point of order. “This bill creates new veterans’ programs and it’s not paid for — it’s all borrowed money.
    …..
    Another GOP complaint was that Sanders’s bill increased the number of veterans who could qualify for disability benefits. Burr said Sanders’s bill would allow a veteran who is injured in the private sector to apply for VA disability benefits. The VA has an ever-increasing backlog, causing some veterans to wait more than a year to receive a decision on their benefits application.

  3. 3

    John you should know by now that the same party that loves a fetus until it exits the womb are the same people who love the troops until they retire or get injured, at which point they become bloodsucking moochers.

  4. 4
    Bob In Portland says:

    When I got out of the army I worked at the VA for the better part of five years. The worst job was being the flack catcher for urgent care. It was soul-draining.

    On a general note, once Nixon and Ford were out of the White House more money flowed into the VA.

  5. 5
    Trollhattan says:

    Congress has now ordered all records in Phoenix, secret or not, be preserved.

    Cripes, secret waiting list? The Animal House reference would be funny if the story didn’t have fatal consequences.

  6. 6
    Bubblegum Tate says:

    And then I remembered that the people who like to create veterans the most really kind of hate them just for existing and costing money.

    And also have a vested interest in a “See? Gummit-run health care doesn’t work! It’s KILLING OUR TROOPS!” talking point.

  7. 7
    Cacti says:

    Reducing the backlog means hiring sufficient staff to handle the number of patients in need of services.

    That costs money.

    Money should only be spent on blowing people up, not on healing them.

  8. 8
    scav says:

    @Cacti: Killing them over there instead of killing them here, in other words. Sort of explains the dodgy showers, come to think of it. Cost-savings on more than one metric. Run it like a business.

  9. 9
    srv says:

    Tip of the iceberg. AZ just always excels at being the worst in everything.

  10. 10

    This young girl giving FLOTUS her dad’s resume who has been out of work for three years will rip at your heart. If it doesn’t you are basically dead.

    http://politicalticker.blogs.c.....loyed-man/

  11. 11
    TG Chicago says:

    Ugh… Republicans will blame Obama even though they’d never vote for a dime of extra spending for veterans or anybody but the rich.

  12. 12
    Laertes says:

    “It is disheartening to hear allegations about Veterans care being compromised,” the statement from Helman reads, “and we are open to any collaborative discussion that assists in our goal to continually improve patient care.”

    That is some weapons-grade smarm right there. Makes me want to punch someone.

  13. 13
    dedc79 says:

    It’s a sad commentary that what I found most surprising about this story is that it’s the product of actual investigative journalism. By CNN, no less!

  14. 14
    TG Chicago says:

    @Litlebritdiftrnt: I guess I’m dead. That mostly makes me think: that girl’s dad knows how to work the system. And good for him! Slick move.

    I mean, it’s not like that girl printed out her dad’s resume on her own, y’know? This was planned.

  15. 15
    Schlemizel says:

    Who ever said we should support the troops? Where did you get the idea that the government should be responsible for these moochers? They volunteered.

    With the exception of WWII this is the fate of every group of veterans. Hell, Hoover sent MacArthur and cavalry against WWI vets. The fuckers who pretend they support the troops only do it while they are sending them to die, the do not give a single solitary shit about them as anything other than cannon fodder. Its a crime and the media needs to lay the blame at the feet of the bastards who screamed for war but are only worried about the cost of caring for the troops when its our turn to serve them.

  16. 16
    soonergrunt says:

    I’ve got nothing to say to this except to echo what John said and to add that those responsible for the hidden wait list thing definitely need to lose their jobs, and probably (IANAL) be prosecuted for fraud or abandonment or something.
    VA has a critical shortage of doctors, and has for some time, and that’s the primary root of this particular incident. It’s one of several major problems the agency has, all of which need a metric fuck-ton of money to address, and will need that for a long time to come. That money wasn’t forthcoming under the previous administration, and while it’s increased under the current one, it hasn’t increased enough, and will almost certainly go down under a Republican.

  17. 17
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Cacti:

    Yep. This is exactly the kind of thing that happens when you insist that people can totally do more work with no additional resources. And it definitely ain’t just a public sector phenomenon — the only difference is that you don’t hear about it when it’s a private company.

  18. 18
    Big R says:

    @Laertes: Worth noting that as the VA has learned more about the situation, their stance has gotten harder – and less supportive of the Phoenix leadership. I think that first statement can be fairly described as “We don’t know anything yet, but we’re willing to listen to what you’ve got to say.”

    Do I think that the first statement should have been more long the lines of, “We’re investigating these allegations, and if true, they neither represent our standards for veteran care nor will the situation continue. When we have some information that allows us to confirm or deny, we will announce, what, if any, action is necessary.”? Uh, yes. If you can parse that sentence. The point being, they could have been less weaselly without committing to anything, but that statement, particularly when followed by the continuing escalation of alarm from the VA, doesn’t strike me as too bad.

  19. 19
    Mnemosyne says:

    @TG Chicago:

    I mean, it’s not like that girl printed out her dad’s resume on her own, y’know? This was planned.

    So was Rosa Parks’ decision not to give up her seat on the bus — she was the secretary of the local chapter of the NAACP and was specifically chosen to take that stand. So, of course, her action meant nothing because it was pre-planned, right?

  20. 20
    Laertes says:

    @TG Chicago:

    Republicans will blame Obama

    To be fair, we’re five years into his Presidency and this stuff, whenever it started, has been going down on his watch. Congressional Republicans may be opportuning weasels, but VA is executive branch. The President is responsible.

    And you can’t blame Republicans for this just because they starved VA of resources. You don’t get to commit a vast fraud, leading to the deaths of dozens of the people in your care, just because you’re short on cash. The fraudulent efforts to conceal the problem most likely made it worse.

  21. 21
    nancydarling says:

    Back in 2003 or 2004 (the run up to Operation Iraqi Freedom!), a House committee voted against moving a bill to increase funding for Veterans. It was a party line vote except Republican Ginny Brown-Waite of Florida voted to send the bill out of committee.

  22. 22
    seabe says:

    No it won’t be a sign of a lack of resources, but a reason to privatize the VA and forecast the future world under Obamacare.

  23. 23
    Baud says:

    @Laertes:

    The President is responsible.

    Heads need to roll for the deception, but I don’t hold the president responsible for what appears to be Congress’s stinginess.

  24. 24
    TG Chicago says:

    @Mnemosyne: Didn’t say it meant nothing. Just that it came off to me more like slick maneuvering than a heartfelt moment.

    Don’t really think it will have the resonance of the Rosa Parks moment, though.

  25. 25
    Laertes says:

    @Baud:

    “I don’t hold the president responsible for what appears to be Congress’s stinginess.”

    “We don’t have enough money to perform our mission properly” = Congress’ fault

    “We don’t have enough money to perform our mission properly, so let’s commit a gigantic fraud that conceals the problem” = VA management’s fault, and their supervisor, and their supervisor, on up to the President.

    This is an epic clusterfuck. A bunch of VA people need to go to jail behind this shit.

  26. 26
    scav says:

    @Baud: And the sheer cosmic bulk of the blame needs to be heaped squarely on those MBA-spawn managers in Phoenix who choose to spend their time designing ways to cook the books and personally look good instead of manage existing resources the best way possible and build the fucking case they needed more.

    ETA: Upper management gets judged on how it deals with these issues now that they have been exposed in my book. Not off the hook entirely, but it needs to be overtly dealt with and investigated.

  27. 27
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Laertes:

    “We don’t have enough money to perform our mission properly, so let’s commit a gigantic fraud that conceals the problem” = VA management’s fault, and their supervisor, and their supervisor, on up to the President.

    I didn’t realize that the president was personally involved in the day-to-day operations of every VA hospital and so must have been fully aware of this situation. Amazing what you learn on this website.

    Also, you don’t seem to realize that there’s a difference between being responsible for something and being in control of something.

  28. 28
    TG Chicago says:

    @Laertes: The buck does indeed stop with O, fair point. But this was not a national policy. As the article says:

    “The scheme was deliberately put in place to avoid the VA’s own internal rules,” said Foote in Phoenix.

    This apparently went against national VA policy.

    And really, when I read the report more carefully, it seems like it’s tough to blame national Republicans. The scheme was to make it seem like they were caring for the veterans properly.

    Foote says the Phoenix wait times reported back to Washington were entirely fictitious. “So then when they did that, they would report to Washington, ‘Oh yeah. We’re makin’ our appointments within — within 10 days, within the 14-day frame,’ when in reality it had been six, nine, in some cases 21 months,” he said.

    Nobody up the chain was aware that they needed more funds since they reported falsely.

    So I retract my blaming of Republicans. I don’t think this is a fair case of their negligence (and there are PLENTY of fair cases, so no need to create one where it doesn’t exist).

  29. 29
    Laertes says:

    Long as you’re clear that he’s ultimately responsible, we’re on the same page. I don’t like it any more than you do–I love and admire the man. But the simple fact is that he bears command responsibility for what his people get up to on his watch, and we’re too far into his presidency to lay this at his predecessor’s door.

  30. 30
    Mnemosyne says:

    @TG Chicago:

    It reminds me of the INS shredding scandal from 2003. Managers using “creative” mean to get rid of an inconvenient backlog that makes them look bad.

  31. 31
    nancydarling says:

    Some good news out of Arkansas.

    Circuit Judge Tim Fox struck down the 2013 Voter ID law passed by our lege. “The constitution is the fortification within which the people have entrenched themselves for the preservation of their rights and privileges and every act of the legislature or other department of government which infringes on any right declared in the constitution whether it be inherent in the people or created in that instrument is absolutely void.”

    I am ashamed to say my state senator, Bryan King, sponsored the bill. My state rep, Bob Ballinger, a lawyer, supported it. The two of the are the Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum of our legislature.

  32. 32
    Cassidy says:

    @soonergrunt: Does the VA have/support any residency programs?

  33. 33
    Laertes says:

    @TG Chicago:

    The buck does indeed stop with O, fair point. But this was not a national policy. As the article says:

    Yeah, that’s not a surprise. Obviously this wouldn’t be policy directed from the very top. Someone down the line got lazy, stupid, and evil. They’re at fault. Responsibility, though not necessarily blame, flows up the chain of command from there to the Pres. Blame is harder to assess–when your subordinate fucks up on this scale, one has to wonder if you neglected your duty of supervision.

    In any case, I want to hear the President address this, with words out of his own mouth. And I want to see some people fired, and I want to hear about criminal investigations. This is horrifying. It’s early yet, but if this turns out to be as bad as it looks it’s easily the worst scandal of this administration (and probably the first one of any significance, the other “scandals” all being gooper nothingburgers.)

  34. 34
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Laertes:

    I’m not really seeing what you’re picturing as the difference between “responsibility” and “blame” in this situation since you’re saying that the president caused this with the current VA policies. Please clarify.

  35. 35
    Cassidy says:

    Wow. A little too much glee from this “progressive” gathering in being able to [try to] blame this on the POTUS.

  36. 36
    Laertes says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Bitter experience tells me that engaging you is a waste of time. I’ll do it, but only if you first quote me the bit where I say that “the president caused this with his current VA policies.”

    (Spoiler: You can’t. So stop spouting stupid at me and go pick a fight with someone you disagree with.)

  37. 37
    Howard Beale IV says:

    Shinseki better get out in front of this or he’s toast.

  38. 38
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    the people who like to create veterans the most really kind of hate them just for existing and costing money.

    This.

    Right here.

  39. 39
    Laertes says:

    @Cassidy:

    A little too much glee from this “progressive” gathering in being able to [try to] blame this on the POTUS.

    Glee? Christ. Try “bitter resignation.” Or, maybe, “desperate hope that this turns out to be totally overblown.” What’s to be gleeful about? The shitheels who’ve been crowing about one stupid nothingburger “scandal” after another have finally caught a break. I’ve really enjoyed watching them wail about Benghazi and Fast-and-furious and other silly shit that either amounts to nothing or can’t be laid at the current President’s door.

    This? If this is real…holy shit.

    Go find gleeful somewhere else. I need a drink.

  40. 40
    Baud says:

    @Laertes:

    we’re too far into his presidency to lay this at his predecessor’s door

    Who has blamed Bush for anything here other than starting the wars?

  41. 41
    Cassidy says:

    @Laertes: Sure, sure, sure. Maybe it’s easy to misinterpret someone who’s first response is “Hey, we’re all in the same page this is Obama’s fault right?”

    Very “bitter resignation”. So nuance.

  42. 42
    soonergrunt says:

    @Cassidy: Most of the VA hospitals built from 1945 to 1960 were located next to or near state colleges of medicine. Here in OKC, OU Medical Center and the OU School of Medicine are right across the street.
    This was policy of VA Director Omar Bradley to ease the shortage of doctors that VA was experiencing with over 12 million benefit-receiving Veterans entering the system after WWII. Most VA hospitals support Residencies and Internships from their partner medical schools, and in exchange, the medical schools research arms get controlled access to our patient database of over 30 million medical records.
    Some VAs have better relationships with their partner medical schools than do others. Here at OKCVAMC, we work very well with OUMC on some things, less well on others, but over all we have a pretty good working relationship with them to my knowledge.

  43. 43
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @dedc79: The goal of which is to make Obama look bad, not to investigate funding for the VA, which is controlled by Congress…specifically, the controlled by utter slime House of Representatives.

  44. 44
    Cassidy says:

    @soonergrunt: Interesting. Maybe a partnership with USUS needs to be explored to add more providers.

  45. 45
    Laertes says:

    @Cassidy:

    Maybe it’s easy to misinterpret someone who’s first response is “Hey, we’re all in the same page this is Obama’s fault right?”

    So, obviously, you didn’t READ my “first response.” I don’t blame you–it wasn’t really anything special, but if you’re going to paraphrase it incorrectly you might at least skim it first.

    I didn’t proceed to “of course this is the President’s responsibility” until some people (inspired by the OP) started trying to lay this on congress. That’d be nice, and certainly the congress gets up to some evil stuff, but I’m not aware of any bill that came out of Congress that mandated shredding records to conceal neglect of patients.

    I’ll be grateful to anyone who can show me such a bill, but I’m not holding my breath.

    Shit, are YOU looking forward to your next confrontation with your idiot wingnut uncle?

    IWU: “Benghazi!”

    You: LOL

    IWU: “Fast and Furious!”

    You: LOL

    IWU: “Phoenix VA!”

    You: …

  46. 46
    Mike G says:

    It’s the MBA “make reality bend to my balance-sheet fantasy” mentality — my projections and my budget say we’ll have this many patients, so any more than that are a rude interruption to my careful plans and a threat to my perceived managerial awesomeness, thus to be treated as an inconvenience to be wished out of existence.
    Combined with deliberate fund starvation by elements of our government who want very much for government health care to be both miserable for the users and primarily profitable for their cronies.

  47. 47
    Cassidy says:

    @Laertes: It will be hard to hold your breath when you’re breathlessly insisting that it has to be Obama’s fault. Get a paper bag before you hyperventilate.

  48. 48
    Baud says:

    @Laertes:

    Your assuming Obama won’t act responsibly on this.

  49. 49
    scav says:

    @Mike G: That’s what I’m seeing. It was all about how good they looked and making the numbers and not about the hospital and its needs, let alone the patients and their needs. MBA all the way.

  50. 50
    soonergrunt says:

    @Cassidy: USUS?
    If you’re talking about the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences, I don’t have any visibility on them, but the US Soldiers and Sailors Home is not far from there, as I understand it. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of their staff work there as well. I believe that they send their personnel primarily to Walter Reed (which is now at Bethesda, MD.) I’ll also note that we’re doing more and more each year with the military services. OKCVAMC has an office in the new hospital that just opened at Tinker AFB, and we provide some services to the hospital at Fort Sill, OK, about 90 miles away. The hospital at Sill provides some services to us. Our Lawton Outpatient Clinic is on Fort Sill in a building they gave us. Doctors from Tinker also work in our facility.
    We also partner with the Indian Health Service and the USPHS.

  51. 51
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Laertes:

    Since you say I always misinterpret you, perhaps you need to be more clear when you write things like this:

    “We don’t have enough money to perform our mission properly, so let’s commit a gigantic fraud that conceals the problem” = VA management’s fault, and their supervisor, and their supervisor, on up to the President.

    The first person to say that this was the president’s “fault” was you. You need to either clarify or defend that claim.

    If you’re saying that the president needs to take responsibility for this fiasco and do a full investigation of how it happened and why it wasn’t discovered earlier, then we agree. If you’re saying that the current VA policies caused the management of the Phoenix VA to do this, then I need better evidence from you that that’s what happened. Clear enough?

  52. 52
    Laertes says:

    @Baud:

    You’re assuming Obama won’t act responsibly on this.

    On the contrary: I expect he will. He’s a thoroughly decent guy and a capable president. I can’t imagine him not tearing this corruption out, root and branch, and firing everyone responsible, and ensuring that nobody gets in the way of the Justice dept as they do their thing.

    That I’m calling for him to do it shouldn’t be taken to suggest that I think he won’t. I’ll be surprised and shocked if we hear what a “heckuva job” Shinseki has done at VA.

  53. 53
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Mike G:

    It’s the MBA “make reality bend to my balance-sheet fantasy” mentality — my projections and my budget say we’ll have this many patients, so any more than that are a rude interruption to my careful plans and a threat to my perceived managerial awesomeness, thus to be treated as an inconvenience to be wished out of existence.

    Yep — as I said above, the only reason we hear about it most in the public sector is that it gets reported. My husband works for a healthcare company that insists on trying to run a 24/7 business using an 8-5 staff, and then complains about how much overtime people are getting paid. Uh, yeah, when someone has to work 12 hours a day, you have to pay them for that, especially in California.

  54. 54
    Laertes says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    The first person to say that this was the president’s “fault” was you. You need to either clarify or defend that claim.

    You’re right. That was imprecise of me, and while the rest of my writing in this thread should make it abundantly clear where I stand, you’re not completely stupid to take from that what you did. I think I expressed myself more clearly at 33:

    Obviously this wouldn’t be policy directed from the very top. Someone down the line got lazy, stupid, and evil. They’re at fault. Responsibility, though not necessarily blame, flows up the chain of command from there to the Pres. Blame is harder to assess–when your subordinate fucks up on this scale, one has to wonder if you neglected your duty of supervision.

    “If you’re saying that the president needs to take responsibility for this fiasco and do a full investigation of how it happened and why it wasn’t discovered earlier, then we agree.”

    Of course that’s what I’m saying.

    “If you’re saying that the current VA policies caused the management of the Phoenix VA to do this, then I need better evidence from you that that’s what happened.”

    There’s the Mnemosyne that I know. Similarly, if you’re saying that Sean Hannity is the Queen of Bavaria, then I need better evidence from you that that’s true.

  55. 55
    Laertes says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    The first person to say that this was the president’s “fault” was you. You need to either clarify or defend that claim.

    You’re right. That was imprecise of me, and while the rest of my writing in this thread should make it abundantly clear where I stand, you’re not completely stupid to take from that what you did. I think I expressed myself more clearly at 33:

    Obviously this wouldn’t be policy directed from the very top. Someone down the line got lazy, stupid, and evil. They’re at fault. Responsibility, though not necessarily blame, flows up the chain of command from there to the Pres. Blame is harder to assess–when your subordinate fucks up on this scale, one has to wonder if you neglected your duty of supervision.

    “If you’re saying that the president needs to take responsibility for this fiasco and do a full investigation of how it happened and why it wasn’t discovered earlier, then we agree.”

    Of course that’s what I’m saying.

    “If you’re saying that the current VA policies caused the management of the Phoenix VA to do this, then I need better evidence from you that that’s what happened.”

    There’s the Mnemosyne that I know. Similarly, if you’re saying that Sean Hannity is the Queen of Bavaria, then I need better evidence from you that that’s true.

  56. 56
    VincentN says:

    @Laertes: As far as I can tell you’re just paraphrasing Truman’s quote that the buck stops with the President and Obama bears the responsibility of investigating the matter and making sure it doesn’t happen again. You don’t seem to be saying that his policies have caused this mess so I don’t see what people are getting on you about.

  57. 57
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Laertes:

    That was imprecise of me, and while the rest of my writing in this thread should make it abundantly clear where I stand, you’re not completely stupid to take from that what you did.

    How very passive-aggressive of you. But, hey, since you’re at least admitting your initial mistake, I’ll let it slide.

  58. 58
    Howard Beale IV says:

    @Laertes:

    On the contrary: I expect he will. He’s a thoroughly decent guy and a capable president. I can’t imagine him not tearing this corruption out, root and branch, and firing everyone responsible, and ensuring that nobody gets in the way of the Justice dept as they do their thing.

    And Obama has got the perfect person for Holder to appoint to lead this activity-he’ll bring back Lanny Breuer!

  59. 59
    Keith G says:

    @Mnemosyne:
    Oh my.

  60. 60
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @soonergrunt:

    This was policy of VA Director Omar Bradley to ease the shortage of doctors that VA was experiencing with over 12 million benefit-receiving Veterans entering the system after WWII.

    Now I’m veering dangerously off topic, but may I just say, I’ve had a crush on Omar Bradley since I was a little girl. Just always liked his kind face. Your comment only reinforces my like for him.

  61. 61
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    @Howard Beale IV:

    And Obama has got the perfect person for Holder to appoint to lead this activity-he’ll bring back Lanny Breuer!

    Holder’s aggressive prosecutions of those responsible for the collapse of the economy certainly gives me confidence that those responsible for the deaths of the veterans will suffer every possible penalty.

  62. 62
    The Bobs says:

    I’m in treatment now for cancer with the VA. They have been great, much better than normal insurance through my job, which is how
    i got started on this journey.

    I’ve got nothing but good things to say about the VA. It has sold me on national health care.

  63. 63
    mclaren says:

    My first instinct is to hang them all, followed up by “WHY THE FUCK ARE THEY NOT GIVEN MORE RESOURCES IF THEY HAVE THIS KIND OF BACKLOG?”

    Because the big money and the big military promotions go to the people who shepherd the big hardware projects through the military procurement process — the F35, for example.

    No congressional district ever got showered in billions of dollars because Vets got better treatment at the VA. No colonel in the E-ring of the Pentagon ever made general because the Veterans Administration prevented a vet from dying. No congressman ever won re-election by boasting that he had reduced wait times at the VA.

  64. 64
    Bobby Thomson says:

    @Laertes: With all due respect, you’re nuts. That’s like blaming the CEO of McDonald’s because one of the managers turned off the cameras and stole out of the drawer.

  65. 65
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @The Bobs:

    I’m guessing you don’t live in Arizona.

    Seriously, only the best of wishes to you. Will add you to my whatever you call prayers from an agnostheist list.

  66. 66
    WaterGirl says:

    Hell has frozen over.

  67. 67
    Elmo says:

    @Laertes:

    It’s early yet, but if this turns out to be as bad as it looks it’s easily the worst scandal of this administration (and probably the first one of any significance, the other “scandals” all being gooper nothingburgers.)

    Yes, and watch the Republicans completely not give a shit in favor of moar BENGHAZIIIIIIII!

  68. 68
    Laertes says:

    @The Bobs:

    I’ve got nothing but good things to say about the VA. It has sold me on national health care.

    That’s about what I’ve always heard about VA. Well-informed people say, time and again, that it’s a model system. I guess I first learned about all this some years back when there was that fiasco at Walter Reed. Some blogger, and it might have been here at BJ come to think of it, explained about how Walter Reed was army, not VA, and then explained at length about how VA was much better and why, making a thoroughly convincing case. Come to think of it, that understanding made me much more favorable toward an NHS-type system here–it’s real-world evidence that the US government can run a solid health care system.

  69. 69
    Laertes says:

    @Bobby Thomson:

    That’s like blaming the CEO of McDonald’s because one of the managers turned off the cameras and stole out of the drawer.

    No. It’s like holding the CEO of McDonald’s responsible because one of his lower-ranking VPs concealed supplier issues that resulted in a salmonella outbreak that left forty customers dead.

    Your analogy is flawed both because it exaggerates the ultimate leader’s distance from the bad actor (introducing, for instance, a franchise owner into the chain of command, which significantly attenuates oversight responsibility) and because it makes the wrongdoer’s direct supervisor the chief victim. That’s hardly the case here.

  70. 70
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Elmo:

    Honestly, I don’t see the point in wasting any energy at all worrying about whether the Republicans are going to try and exploit this because of course they are. That’s what they do. It’s all they’ve got. They’re going to roll around in this like a dog who just found a skunk that’s been dead for about three days.

    I would rather direct my energies towards finding out what the hell happened and making sure the system is fixed so it can’t happen again. Worrying about what the Republicans are going to say is far down my list of priorities.

  71. 71
    Bobby Thomson says:

    @Laertes:

    No. It’s like holding the CEO of McDonald’s responsible because one of his lower-ranking VPs concealed supplier issues that resulted in a salmonella outbreak that left forty customers dead.

    I’m with you on the salmonella, but seriously. This is one out of hundreds of VA hospitals.

    And even in your attenuated analogy, it would be fucked up to blame the CEO if the VP was violating company policy and hiding stuff from internal audit.

  72. 72
    AxelFoley says:

    @Laertes:

    Long as you’re clear that he’s ultimately responsible, we’re on the same page. I don’t like it any more than you do–I love and admire the man. But the simple fact is that he bears command responsibility for what his people get up to on his watch, and we’re too far into his presidency to lay this at his predecessor’s door.

    You seem intent to put the blame on him. Interesting.

  73. 73
    AxelFoley says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    The goal of which is to make Obama look bad

    Seeing Laertes’ reaction, I’d say it’s working.

  74. 74
    Howard Beale IV says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate:

    Holder’s aggressive prosecutions of those responsible for the collapse of the economy certainly gives me confidence that those responsible for the deaths of the veterans will suffer every possible penalty

    Seems to be Obama’s pattern when it comes to government institutional fuckups, unless you’re a whistleblower-aand if you bceome a whsitleblower, the question becomes not if you’ll do jail time, but for how long.

  75. 75
    Laertes says:

    @Bobby Thomson:

    And even in your attenuated analogy, it would be fucked up to blame the CEO if the VP was violating company policy and hiding stuff from internal audit.

    Well, again, there’s the blame vs. responsibility thing, about which I’ve been careless, and about which Mnemosyne is correct.

    An executive has got a duty to supervise her reports. If they get up to serious wrongdoing, one of the questions that needs asking is “should the supervisor have caught this quicker?” The answer may be no, but the question needs asking.

    And more generally, a leader sets the tone for the organization she leads, and should to some extent be held to account for the behavior of her subordinates because that’s going to reflect the culture she’s fostered.

    See, for instance, Chris Christie’s people and the bridge fiasco, or that clown that George W sent to run FEMA.

    To be clear, in Christie’s case we’re talking about his direct reports as the bad actors, while the VA crooks here are surely many many steps down the org chart from the President. And Brown’s mismanagement of FEMA killed far more people than this VA incident. But those two cases serve to illustrate the point that a leader is responsible for the mismanagement of his subordinates, and that’s the point we’re on here.

    Maybe a good way to explain the blame/responsibility thing is like this: The bad actors are to blame. Everyone above them in the org chart, on up to the president, is responsible. The people who are to blame need to be fired and possibly prosecuted. The people who are merely responsible need to make that happen, and if they don’t, then and only then does the blame attach to them too.

  76. 76
    Laertes says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate:

    Holder’s aggressive prosecutions of those responsible for the collapse of the economy certainly gives me confidence that those responsible for the deaths of the veterans will suffer every possible penalty.

    In fairness to Holder, those are pretty tough cases to make. The wrongdoing at VA in Phoenix is much more straightforward. (Also, the Phoenix VA crooks probably have fewer friends at Treasury.)

  77. 77
    Howard Beale IV says:

    @Laertes:

    In fairness to Holder, those are pretty tough cases to make.

    Like herpes, Holder’s deference to Bruer’s lack of action is beginning to bite back. And while they were granted a pass for past acts, they wern’t covered for future actions. MERS is still in shambles, and the banks may actually be forced to register deeds the way they did for centuries prior to the creation of MERS.

  78. 78
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    @Laertes:

    In fairness to Holder, those are pretty tough cases to make.

    And if the top law enforcement officer in the country can’t make those cases then I guess we’d better just grab our ankles, right?

  79. 79
    soonergrunt says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: AGEN Bradley was a great leader in just about every respect an officer or executive could be. He was a brilliant strategist, tactician, logician, and manager. His tenure as VA Director was probably the most important in the history of the department. He’s one of my personal heroes.

    @Laertes: Pretty much this.

  80. 80
    soonergrunt says:

    I was just speaking with a coworker about this thing. We’re working late moving servers. He and I agree that this thing in Phoenix couldn’t have happened without a lot of people being involved. I’m not an IG or any kind of investigator, but based on what I know of the VA’s organization, I believe the following people had to have been involved in a conspiracy:
    The facility CEO, the facility Chief of Staff, the Chief of Medical Administration (maintains the appointment system), the Chief of Patient Affairs (who many of these Veterans complained to), the Chief of Finance (these patients who were listed as having been seen have to be paid for, so somebody had to cook the books to cover this aspect of it), the Chief of Ambulatory Care (the department that administers outpatient care), and the Chief of Clinical Services (runs the off-site clinics called CBOCs and VA Clinics), several staff people from each of these organizations, and possibly a couple of IT people.
    In addition to all of those people at the facility, there had to have been people at the VISN (the level above the facility) and the VA Region (the level above the VISN) who were negligent in allowing this to happen, if they weren’t complicit.

  81. 81
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @soonergrunt: The man gave a shit, and it showed, about the common soldier.

    One of the best officers, ever, in the US military.

  82. 82
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate: No, one of the biggest problems was that a lot of shit that should be illegal wasn’t. Also, take a look at this – a good portion of the financial fraud prosecutions are pursued by the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, not the DoJ proper.

    @Laertes: That is a reasonable take on it.

  83. 83
    Howard Beale IV says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate:

    And if the top law enforcement officer in the country can’t make those cases then I guess we’d better just grab our ankles, right?

    Frontline did several episodes on the Financial Crises that are required viewing: Inside The Meltdown, The Warning, Money, Power and Wall Street; The Untouchables (aka The Lanny Breuer excuseathon)

  84. 84
    Howard Beale IV says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    No, one of the biggest problems was that a lot of shit that should be illegal wasn’t.

    Like institutionalized foreclosure fraud, where the settlement amounted to nothing more than the cost of doing business and few if any of the attorneys getting hauled before their respective state bars and being stripped of their licenses (with the notable exception of David J Stern?)

  85. 85
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Howard Beale IV: No, in my view that is one of the things that was actually illegal.

  86. 86
    Roger Moore says:

    @Bobby Thomson:

    And even in your attenuated analogy, it would be fucked up to blame the CEO if the VP was violating company policy and hiding stuff from internal audit.

    Yes and no. It’s wrong to blame the head of the organization for the actions of a subordinate who violated policy and hid that he was doing so. It does make sense to hold the head of the organization accountable for flaws in the internal audit policies allowed the subordinate to get away with their wrongdoing for as long as they did. And, of course, this assumes that the head makes a serious effort to do something about the wrongdoing when it’s discovered. If they let it go, they are establishing a de facto policy of allowing wrongdoing, and they deserve to be held accountable for all the wrongdoing that takes place under that de facto policy.

  87. 87
    Howard Beale IV says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Unfortunately, the reality is that is exactly what has happened. Fortunately, it looks like Holder’s and Breuer’s non-feasance is causing some heartburn when the mortgage market is already on the ropes.

  88. 88
    Suzanne says:

    I live not far from this hospital, and they are, in fact, one of my clients. This made me absolutely heartsick. Every time I go there, the facility is absolutely packed. Standing room only. People lined up in the corridors. I don’t know any of the people responsible for this, and if I did, I would just slap them. That hospital is just so overloaded with people who need help. This is tragic.

  89. 89
    Ruckus says:

    @soonergrunt:
    At my VA facility we see many interns/residents from a large southern Calif med school and a large hospital with an aggressive intern/resident program. And this is not what I’d call a large facility, I see a lot of the same vets when I go.
    My experience with the VA is very good. Other than 6 yrs I’ve had employer health care insurance for over 40 yrs. This is better. I do understand that the VA has changed appreciably about 5yrs ago. I wonder why that was? (OK that was rhetorical).
    My issue right now is I’m turning 65 real soon and I don’t want to take Medicare part B as long as I have the VA. But I’m worried that conservatives will screw the VA (and me!) over if they get any chance at all. They are less likely to be able to screw up Medicare but they will try.

  90. 90
    maya says:

    @Ruckus: I’ve been in the VA healthcare system since 2000. When I turned 65 I elected not to get Medicare B. I saved $110 a month. That was fine for awhile but keep in mind that in the event of an emergency, unless a VA medical Center (hospital) is right nearby, you probably will have to go to another hospital and use other doctors. This is exactly what happened to me and I got a $3200 bill, + extra charges from the doctor there as well for that emergency. Wiped out all I was saving by not getting Medicare part B for a three year period. It turned out to be a total wash, however, if I had to do it all over again, I’d just get the part B and breathe easier. Which is what I did last year.

  91. 91
    mclaren says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    I would rather direct my energies towards finding out what the hell happened and making sure the system is fixed so it can’t happen again.

    It’s perfectly clear what happened. The Republicans in the House caused this problem by refusing to properly fund the VA and by encouraging and perpetuating the trillions-for-military-hardware-but-not-a-dime-for-military-people mindset in the Pentagon and its contractors and its associated institutions. Then the Republicans turned around, after causing this horrible situation, and blamed the Democrats for it.

    This is exactly what Ronald Reagan used to do in the 80s. Reagan caused exploding deficits and crashing social services by ramming through incredible military spending increases and getting his Republican coalition in congress to slash safety net spending until the streets filled up with homeless people and the welfare rolls exploded with impoverished single mothers. Then Reagan would all but hold a protest sign outside congress, as he gave speeches bitterly condemning the Democrats for big deficits and degradation in the environment, he blamed the Democrats for wrecking the lives of poor people, he blamed the Democrats for starving hordes of single black women with children whose husbands Reagan’s War on Drugs had put in prison, etc., etc., etc.

    Create a crisis and then blame the victims hurt by it. That’s the Republican way.

  92. 92
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    followed up by “WHY THE FUCK ARE THEY NOT GIVEN MORE RESOURCES IF THEY HAVE THIS KIND OF BACKLOG?”

    Irony here is that the mental health side of the VA is generally better paying than the state equivalent, but there’s not much room to hire even though there’s demand for jobs and the gift of PTSD and general post-active-duty fuckedupness keeps giving, while the medical side (on the same GS scale) is the opposite because doctors can generally get better-paid jobs elsewhere, given how there are so many seemingly attractive ways to cash in on American Healthcare.

  93. 93
    Ella in New Mexico says:

    I understand that VA facilities offer free health care, and in general are of excellent quality so of course, they’ll be in demand. But in many parts of the country they are not locally available, and yet Vets still get insured health benefits.

    How does TRICARE fit into all of this? Any Vets here use it or can speak to it’s usability when you can’t go to a VA Hospital or physician? How are the costs in terms of affordability and coverage?

    http://www.tricare.mil/Welcome.....ilies.aspx

  94. 94
    Quaker in a Basement says:

    trying to hide that 1,400 to 1,600 sick veterans were forced to wait months to see a doctor

    Jail time is the only proper ending to this.

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