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Expensive Failure at California Department of Veterans Affairs

Friday June 17th, 2016   •   Posted by K. Lloyd Billingsley at 9:47am PDT   •  

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As Craig Eyermann observed last year, veterans who survive combat face health care rationing by the federal Department of Veterans Affairs. Contrary to official proclamations, veterans wait months before they can even get on a schedule to receive care. In Phoenix, as many as 40 veterans died before receiving care, all due to a secret rationing system that could only happen with the knowledge of VA bosses. The rigors veterans face, unfortunately, are not limited to the federal system.

As Rachel Cohrs writes in the Sacramento Bee, the California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet) has indulged an “expensive failure,” a $28 million on a computer system that “launched years later than planned, wastes staff time and has not been fully implemented.” The comprehensive computer system was intended to give veterans “consistent and integrated care” throughout the state, but state auditor Elaine Howle found that CalVet failed to hire a contractor for three years, and then dropped the ball on oversight plans. At one facility for elderly and disabled veterans, data entry with the new system took twice as long as the old system, and another facility reverted to paper records. CalVet bosses were aware of the problems in 2012 but did nothing until 2013 and then blamed problems on employees’ alleged unfamiliarity with the system. CalVet wants to replace the $28 million bust with another system it “hopes can be implemented next year.” Good luck with that.

The state auditor recalled a series of government technology failures in data security, the payroll system, and licensing board software. She might have mentioned Covered California, the wholly-owned subsidiary of Obamacare, which spent $454 million on a dysfunctional computer system. “This is the same system that has cost nearly half a billion dollars so far,” wrote Emily Bazar, the Center for Health Reporting. The system may have helped “multitudes” apply for health insurance, but “it also is responsible for countless glitches and widespread consumer misery.” As with the VA and CalVet, the misery is inherent in the system.

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June 2016