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Surviving War, but Not the VA’s Rationing of Health Care

Friday September 4th, 2015   •   Posted by Craig Eyermann at 6:24am PDT   •  

058856-O-IPH92-157-Genevieve-Kynaston-Age-3-May-25-2015-Arlington-National-Cemetary-source-defense-gov Back in April 2014, we described the newly unfolding tragedy of fraudulent waiting lists at the Department of Veterans Affairs’ medical facilities as a rationing scheme – one that was operated by knowing individuals within the VA for the purpose of enriching themselves:

The VA has been wracked in recent weeks by reports of negligence on the part of the department’s managers and admininistrators, who allegedly have implemented a unique health care rationing scheme aimed at making the system appear to be meeting the needs of ailing veterans, but is instead denying critical care to them.

The rationing scheme involves the use of multiple waiting lists for veterans seeking medical care at a number of VA health care facilities across the United States. Here, a number of facilities have been discovered to be maintaining an “official” waiting list, which is meant to communicate the VA is successfully limiting waiting times to 14 days or less before providing care. But in reality, the “official” waiting list is a fraud, as these facilities would appear to also be maintaining secret waiting lists – ones where the veterans seeking care are effectively placed in a virtual waiting room where months pass before they can even get on a schedule to receive care.

That kind of deception carries a real human cost, as the story first broke in Phoenix, where as many as 40 veterans have died before receiving care after seeking it from the VA as they were placed on the facility’s secret wait list instead. Since that story first broke, it would appear that this secret rationing system has been adopted at a number of Veterans Administration facilities across the nation – something that could only happen with the knowledge and assent of the Department’s administrators.

In other words, the situation being discovered by the public today is not an isolated incident resulting from the actions of a few rogue administrators at a local facility. Instead, it is the result of deliberate actions taken on the part of the department’s top administrators, which we can see by the system of incentives they created to reward those who adopted the secret wait list scheme and punish those who did not.

On Wednesday, September 2, 2015, we learned the magnitude of what the U.S. government’s single payer health care system for the nation’s military veterans cost the nation in the terms of the medical treatment it denied them. CNN reports:

Hundreds of thousands of veterans listed in the Department of Veterans Affairs enrollment system died before their applications for care were processed, according to a report issued Wednesday.

The VA’s inspector general found that out of about 800,000 records stalled in the agency’s system for managing health care enrollment, there were more than 307,000 records that belonged to veterans who had died months or years in the past.

In other words, if a veteran had the processing of their application to obtain medical treatment at the VA grind to a halt in the VA’s bureaucratic limbo, they had a 38% chance of dying before the VA’s Inspector General found their stalled application years later. The remaining 62% in bureaucratic limbo were simply never permitted to obtain care.

What did the VA’s bureaucrats do with the applications instead? CNN describes what the Inspector General found:

The inspector general found the VA’s office responsible for enrollment “has not effectively managed its business processes to ensure the consistent creation and maintenance of essential data.”

Additionally, the investigation states the Veterans Health Administration “has not adequately established procedures to identify individuals who have died, including those with pending health care enrollment records.”

The report said an internal VA investigation in 2010 found staffers had hidden veterans’ applications in their desks so they could process them at a later time, but human resources later recommended the staffers responsible not be disciplined.

And once again, we find that when given both the responsibility and the opportunity to hold themselves accountable in looking out for the interests of regular Americans, the U.S. government’s bureaucrats looked out for their own interests instead.

Featured Image:
U.S. Department of Defense

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September 2015