Archive for Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Senators seek answers in Kansas VA hospital controversy

June 3, 2014


Topeka (AP) — Problems with delayed care and unauthorized wait lists found at Department of Veterans Affairs facilities in Arizona also existed in seven facilities serving the Midwest, but in much smaller numbers, VA officials said in letters to two U.S. senators.

The VA maintained 10 such lists, also known as “secret waiting lists,” of military veterans in need of care at seven facilities serving veterans in Kansas, Missouri, Illinois and Indiana, the letters said. They also said at least 96 veterans waited more than 90 days for treatment at the facilities, including 26 in St. Louis and 19 in Columbia, Missouri.

The letters said that eight of the 10 lists “served to complement authorized lists to more fully support Veteran care and access.” But the two other lists, including one at the Wichita facility, “placed Veterans at risk.”

The information about conditions in the VA’s Heartland Network was sent to U.S. Sens. Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran of Kansas late last week, as the VA released the results of 216 site-specific audits detailing widespread falsification of waiting list records and unreported treatment delays at VA facilities nationwide. In that release, the VA did not reveal any information about conditions at individual sites.

The VA is conducting a system-wide investigation after it was found that the Phoenix VA Health Care System had about 1,700 veterans in need of care on secret waiting lists, and another that had 1,400 waited over 90 days for primary care appointments. The scandal led to the resignation last week of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki.

Roberts said Tuesday he wanted more answers about conditions at the Robert J. Dole Veterans Administration Medical Center in Wichita and the other facilities. One letter said 21 veterans waited longer for 90 days for care in Wichita; the second put that total at nine. Roberts said he had earlier been assured by VA officials there were no such problems at the hospital.

“My top priority is who is on that secret list and what is the status of their care?” Roberts said.

The letters were sent to the senators by Francisco Vasquez, director of the Dole medical center, and Dr. William P. Patterson, the director of the VA’s Heartland Network. The two senators said they forwarded the information in the letters to the VA’s Office of Inspector General.

The letters were first reported Monday by The Wichita Eagle. They both said the practices had been “immediately discontinued” and veterans were being contacted to ensure they are receiving the proper level of care, the letter said. It added that investigations into the issues are “ongoing.”

Officials from the Wichita VA didn’t immediately respond to questions Tuesday from The Associated Press.

The VA’s Heartland Network facilities serve Kansas, Missouri and parts of Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky. The veterans who waited for care longer than 90 days included 14 in Poplar Bluff, Missouri; 12 in Kansas City; eight in a facility serving eastern Kansas and another eight in a facility serving the southern parts of Illinois and Indiana.


Richard Heckler 3 years, 11 months ago

When the GOP has friends who want to take over great government services for huge profits they demonize the program as the first step and proceed to paint this great government service as evil until popular opinion goes their way. From my own experience VA medical care is not evil nor does it need to privatized.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 11 months ago

The 24/7 wars bring tens of thousands of disabled vets on line and a substantial increase in operating expenses. Tax dollars need to be infused quickly. We're talking big big bucks considering the serious injuries and demand on disability benefits.

Can we say billions initially and trillions for the long haul.

What did the GOP and BUSHCO regime do? Put forth more tax cuts for the 1% while starting a war and creating monster new demands for the VA = dumb beyond reality. Unfortunately the GOP remain primary obstacles to rectifying the VA situation as the wars continue to create MORE disabled vets.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 11 months ago

Breaking News !!!

GOP to get a second chance to do right by veterans - keep a close eye on these flag wavers.

Chad Hays 3 years, 11 months ago

This is ridiculous, we need to do more for our veterans.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 3 years, 11 months ago

And that would include paying more in taxes. It's time we pay for this war and take care of our veterans, especially those "job creators" who made a huge profit from the war.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 11 months ago

"The VA Scandal Is a Crisis of Leadership" yes this is the latest party line of crap coming from the party of sheep aka ALEC GOP. I've read it from several ALEC GOP creeps in the news who are more than willing to throw vets under the bus.

Bob Smith 3 years, 11 months ago

Every VA employee who got a bonus by manipulating wait-list times should go to jail.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 11 months ago

I would rather put some of these people in jail :

--- The Reagan/Bush Savings and Loan Heist

--- The Bush/Cheney Wall Street Bank Fraud on Consumers

--- What did Bush and Henry Paulson do with the $700 billion of bail out money?

--- Why did GW Bush Lie About Social Security?( This would cost taxpayers $4 trillion,place taxpayers insurance money at risk and wreck the economy)

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 3 years, 11 months ago

I'll agree with you on that one, and they should have to pay back their bonuses, even if it means we confiscate their property. If I was going to run things, the first thing I would do is suspend all bonuses, until this problem is fixed, and then set up a system for bonuses that would be cheat proof. These people not only benefited from these lies, they also covered up that the VA needs more money to handle the increase of war vets. If they had just said there wasn't enough resources, then the Congress would have been pressured to act.

William Weissbeck 3 years, 11 months ago

Look no further than the Topeka VA. It is probably 25% of what it was in the 70's. How do you justify that when we've now been in two more wars and all the Vietnam era vets are starting to reach senior status?

Bob Smith 3 years, 11 months ago

Bringing out all the golden oldies, Richard?

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 3 years, 11 months ago

Do you deny anything in his posts? Why not argue with your opinion and facts. Do you deny that the Republicans have blocked any increase to veterans? That they blocked the veterans jobs bill? Address the issues, because making snide remarks like this makes you look like your creating a distraction, so people won't see the truth. Is that your intent?

Bob Smith 3 years, 11 months ago

The VA scandal is a leadership issue, not a funding issue. "... Since 9/11, the VA budget has increased by 235%, from FY2001′s $45 billion annual budget to FY2014′s $150.7 billion. On a percentage basis, the only Cabinet agencies that had larger budget increases over that arc have been State (271%) and Homeland Security (245%), the latter of which barely existed at the start of that period. In the Bush era, comparing the final budget with his signature (FY08) to the final Clinton budget (FY01), VA spending rose 88.3% to $84.7 billion. Defense spending rose 104% in the same period...." BTW, Richard has posted that same set of links hundreds of times on LJW. He doesn't engage in conversation. He simply tosses out his set of links and goes away. There is no point in trying to discuss anything from that years-old pack of canards.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 3 years, 11 months ago

I agree there has been a leadership problem, the same problem we have had in the private sector - greed. Bonuses shouldn't have been tied to something that could have been faked. But there are issues with building more facilities and hiring more personnel. The are short on doctors, but if you were a doctor would you pass up your private practice to make less money. Why weren't they given enough money to pay for doctors. Why aren't we offering to put doctor's through medical school for free, if they sign up for 5 years of working in the VA?

Richard Heckler 3 years, 11 months ago

The current wars are estimated to cost $5-$6 trillion tax dollars. Most of which is dedicated to vet care and disability payments.

Thousands upon thousands upon thousands of veterans have surfaced since Reagan/Bush decided to invade the oil supplies 10 thousand miles away. Cutting taxes at the same time while increasing the cost of running government. Not smart business people I'd say.

If congress can borrow money to fund wars it seems congress should borrow money to maintain our USA veterans. Exposing our veterans to "agent orange" in Nam and low yield Nuke weapons in Iraq and Afghanistan is not only toxic but will be with the vets till death do they part. Our soldiers cannot run from radioactive dust in the field.

Cost of maintaining our USA veterans will only increase significantly due in large part to any number of profiteers.

BTW I do not consider the lions share of elected officials as reliable sources of information.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 11 months ago

The problems currently surrounding the country’s Veterans Affairs (VA) department predated both President Barack Obama and department Secretary Eric Shinseki’s administrations, and were fueled in part by Republican budget cuts and inaction.

“There is a modern American dysmorphia when it comes to veterans,” she said. “We see things that aren’t really there. We tell ourselves that we’re doing things that we’re not really doing. We have a poetry in this country about our love and respect for veterans that is not matched by the prose of how veterans are actually treated.”

Maddow noted that in March 2003 — the same month the U.S. began its second war against Iraq — the GOP-led House of Representatives approved a budget cutting $14 billion from the VA’s budget. Two years later, Anthony Principi, who was appointed by then-President George W. Bush, released a statement saying the department did not “require additional resources” despite the escalating cost of that conflict.

Lawmakers later had to approve an emergency $1.5 billion budget influx following reports that local VA facilities were instituting hiring freezes and lacking the ability to make necessary purchases.

Meanwhile …. When think tanks put out numbers that the VA budget increased by what looks to be a large percent number we must ask ourselves AFTER how many preceding budget cuts? No matter the so called current increase in budget is no indication it made up for all those years of budget cuts.

New vets have been coming on line for 34 years too many needing lifetime care and disability pay that also covers their dependents.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 11 months ago

Vet Group Come Out Against GOP

Vet groups have come also against John McCain and the GOP in general numerous times for basically throwing them under the bus.

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