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VA Bosses Bagged Bonuses

Friday May 30th, 2014   •   Posted by K. Lloyd Billingsley at 8:30am PDT   •  

VA_logo_200As we recently noted, the Veterans Administration has been cooking the books and falsifying information about wait times. According to CNN, at least 40 veterans died while awaiting treatment at the VA facility in Phoenix. President Obama says he’s angry over the situation but he has not fired VA boss Eric Shinseki. Now, as Jacob Siegel writes in the Daily Beast, it emerges that the dysfunctional, unaccountable VA “may actually have given rewards to those who treated veterans the worst.”

For example, Sharon Helman, the former VA director in Phoenix, the first VA facility accused of keeping a secret waiting list, received more than $9,000 in bonus pay in 2013. Incoming director Steven Young bagged bonuses of $10,000 in 2012 and more than $15,000 in 2010. It remains unclear whether the bonuses were “tied directly to wait times” but Siegel notes that VA bosses got the bonuses despite “repeated calls to ban them” from various representatives, including Jeff Miller, chairman of the House Veterans Committee. The VA facility in Cheyenne, Wyoming, has been the subject of two reports of falsified record that hid delays. Cynthia McCormack, VA director in Cheyenne, bagged more than $11,000 in bonus pay in 2012.

What we have here is institutionalized waste, fraud and abuse of veterans and taxpayers alike. The president’s 2015 budget for the VA is $163.9 billion, an increase of $2 billion over 2014. The bigger budget will supposedly “help ensure that veterans, their families, and survivors receive the highest quality benefits and services we can provide and which they earned through their sacrifice and service to our nation.” It’s not exactly working out that way, and the problems are not new.

In Failure to Provide: Healthcare at the Veterans Administration, Ronald Hamowy explained that because the VA is a government organization, its standard of care will always lag behind that of independent institutions. As the VA budget and payroll expanded, inefficiency and negligence continued to mount. Taxpayers could ask for no clearer demonstration of government monopoly health care, the system the ruling class really wants. One might call it OVAmacare, and the delays, inefficiency and secrecy are all inherent in the system.

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May 2014