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  • dannyboystories 10:48 AM on May 29, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    “First, do no harm.” 

    I watched the entire first session hearing by the House Veterans Affairs Committee for the Veterans’ Health Administration last night (May 28,2014). It was an appalling display, and brought to mind the above guideline to which most physicians subscribe, although it is not a part of the Hippocratic Oath.

    DrThomas Lynch, assistant deputy undersecretary for health for clinical operations, Veterans Health Administration, was the principal administrator on the hot seat. Joan Mooney,  assistant secretary for congressional and legislative affairs at the Department of Veterans Affairs, and Michael Huff, a congressional relations officer with the Department of Veterans Affairs, shared the duties to testify before the committee. The latter two are primary go-between staffers for the VA to the Congress.

    Congresswoman Jackie Walorski (R-Indiana) said it well when she summarized the first session last night, telling the VA representatives she learned only that the three “knew nothing” after more than two hours of testimony. “I have more questions tonight than I had when I walked in here. I know less tonight,” she said. [ See: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/05/29/late-night-fireworks-on-capitol-hill-as-va-officials-face-congressional-ire/ ]

    It occurs to me, all three VA officials who testified sit near the top of the chain of command. Dr. Lynch’s title would seem to infer he is part of a “management team” overseeing how VA health facilities operate, yet he knew nothing of how they actually operate and proved that time and again with his testimony. In my opinion, it is part and parcel of how the massive bureaucracy that is the federal government operates. People, perhaps well meaning, occupy high level positions of authority and do not understand basic personnel or facility management. Dr. Lynch said he spent a week in the Phoenix facility “learning the process” (of how schedulers make care appointments for veterans). Furthermore, he admitted he did not speak with a single scheduler. Really?

    It was pointed out in the hearing, veterans can be referred out for private medical care in their own communities, but that requires going through more hoops and expense. So what? Take care of our veterans! Perhaps we should contract the entire VA health system to the local hospitals and doctors, and administrators…particularly administrators who already know what they are doing.

    Time and again, during the hearing, it became clear to me the data issued by the VA has been manipulated to put their best foot forward. VA data cannot be trusted. Bonuses to supervisory staff was a primary reason data was falsified.

    As a taxpayer, and as a supporter of our military men and women and veterans, I’m personally very angry anyone in any administrative position could fudge numbers and apparently cause the death of a veteran just to meet expectations and earn a bonus. Frankly, should I have the authority, many, many folks in the VA health division would be on the street looking for a job today. At the same time, it also occurs to me the fine doctors and nurses who actually provide medical care to our veterans must be insulted supervisors have tainted the reputation of their honorable profession, all in the name of making goal and earning a bonus.

    In my view, the “bonus” practice in the federal government must be eliminated. Federal employees are already compensated well, and many seem to be unqualified to do what they are assigned. A share of the blame for this fiasco goes to employee unions and civil service rules that make it difficult to fire federal employees, in my view. Things must change…quickly. 

    The current disaster and shame in the VA health system is “systemic” throughout America, according to an inspector general report made public prior to last night’s hearing. I’m appalled Dr. Lynch time and again said simply “we’re working on it,” and Ms. Mooney continually referred her answers to “general counsel”. Come on, Ms. Mooney, we, the taxpayers are the client. Just tell the truth and let the chips fall where they may.

    Given what we now know, this is frightening: “VA operates the nation’s largest integrated health care system, with more than 1,700 hospitals, clinics, community living centers, domiciliaries, readjustment counseling centers, and other facilities.” [ See: http://www.va.gov/ ] Maybe this is an indication of just what Obamacare will become for all Americans, once the federal government is fully operating that health care law.

    There is so much more to this than I can rant about in this space. Suffice it to say, Americans should be very angry. Veterans have died waiting for medical care. That is unacceptable and criminal on its face.

    Everyone in a supervisor or administrative position in the VA Health Department should be ashamed, and most of them, union or not, should be replaced forthwith. — D. C. “Dan” Lee, http://www.dannyboystories.com

  • dannyboystories 8:20 AM on May 17, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    The benefits of fraud, mismanagement, and incompetence! 

    I would be willing to bet the outright fraud, mismanagement and incompetence now spotlighted in the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Internal Revenue Service, are pervasive throughout the dozens of federal departments and agencies that make up the federal bureaucracy!

    Apparently, veterans have had difficulty obtaining prompt medical care from VA facilities for decades, at least since the late 1950s. It is not a recent occurrence brought on by the surge of patients from Iraq or Afghanistan fighting.

    Falsifying performance numbers for federal workers to earn bonuses has seemingly become commonplace. Furthermore, federal workers are already paid higher wages and receive higher benefits than people in the private sector doing the same tasks.  [See: http://www.downsizinggovernment.org/overpaid-federal-workers ] During the last decade, compensation of federal employees rose faster than compensation of private-sector employees. As a consequence, the average federal civilian worker now earns 74 percent more in wages and benefits than the average worker in the U.S. private sector.”

    Employee unions representing federal workers keep the cash flowing to government employees. [See: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/federal-eye/wp/2014/01/06/federal-employee-unions-lay-out-2014-priorities/ ] Although slanted toward unionization, the story demonstrates the 1.2 million workers in the federal government are well paid. Furthermore, government unions yield a big stick in contributions to campaigns. [See: https://www.opensecrets.org/industries/indus.php?ind=P04 ] As a result, it seems, cutting federal spending is a monstrously difficult task for a Congress that is beholding to federal employee unions. Too, union agreements keep workers from being summarily discharged. Most are simply transferred to another agency or department when their incompetence is found out!

    If you have ever wondered about the total number of federal workers, here is a chart: http://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/data-analysis-documentation/federal-employment-reports/historical-tables/total-government-employment-since-1962/

    In my view, nothing more than a complete overhaul of our federal bureaucracy will cut the national debt, reduce spending, and bring the federal budget into balance. It is apparent federal governmental operations are completely out of control!

    Want to bet? — D. C. “Dan” Lee, http://www.dannyboystories.com


  • dannyboystories 12:42 PM on May 13, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    VA: An ongoing shame. 

    Asserting the Phoenix, Arizona, Veteran’s Administration Hospital fiasco something new is patently false.

    According to male relatives of mine who served and were injured in World War Two, the ability to obtain timely medical care or prescription renewal from the VA has been a difficulty for decades. Apparently, veterans have suffered at the hands of a mismanaged and incompetently run VA medical services agency since it was established. You have only to speak with a veteran to discover the real truth.

    Services run by a bureaucratic government agency are usually poorly run, when compared with those of the private sector.  It is doubly shameful when it involves our fighting men and women, injured in the course of serving their country! Bureaucrats are quick to cite lack of personnel or funding, when, in truth, failings are an apparent lack of meaningful oversight by the Congress or those in charge!

    Would it not be better to contract medical services operation to the private sector? Certainly, I do not have the answer to that question, but clearly the VA–as well as many other bureaucracies in the federal government–need a complete overhaul.

    I’m ashamed of our Veteran’s Administration. — D. C. “Dan” Lee, http://www.dannyboystories.com.

    War Wounded

  • dannyboystories 9:21 PM on May 3, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    Splinters hurt! 

    What has become known as the Benghazi incident, and tragic death of four Americans, stands alongside other situations in which a President of the United States and/or his administration is more intent on saving face than doing what is right.

    Do you remember “Watergate”? How about the “Iran-Contra” affair, or perhaps Monica in the Oval Office? Richard Nixon resigned the Presidency in the face of certain conviction before the Senate. We forget Bill Clinton, already disbarred along with his wife, Hillary, was impeached by the house, but escaped conviction by a partisan Senate.

    If she were here, my grandmother would say these fellows all “got too big for their britches”. The humor is lost in the simple tragedy of it all. These kinds of incidents are becoming all to frequent, and are symptomatic of a deeper, festering, blight on the United States. It seems all of our elected officials have become “too big for their britches”, too infatuated with their own importance, apparently much too important to recognize their constituents’ needs. How can it be that the people who hired these folks will be ignored?

    Frankly, I have grown tired of the “spin”. I’m weary of those who would accept our appointment to high office, and subsequently forget we exist as they partake of the attention lavished upon them by lobbyists and bureaucrats in the Beltway, or at home in the smallest of communities.

    It is becoming increasingly clear to me, the Benghazi tragedy is not just a partisan witch hunt by the right. It is also clear, the left has made every attempt to protect their standard bearer. The President of the United States, under the Constitution, holds the awesome responsibility to be the guiding hand, the CEO, over every department and agency in our growing federal bureaucracy. Therefore, it follows the “buck stops here” with the President. There is no escaping that fact. In business, we delegate and confirm, but ignore the latter in governing.

    In my view, it is also increasingly clear the President and his minions are more interested in their collective goals to “fundamentally transform America” in their own vision, rather than governing Constitutionally. The result is a timid foreign policy, increased regulation over businesses,  loss of liberties for the masses, and an explosive federal deficit that may soon cripple the union.

    Certainly, Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, red, blue, green, whatever political stripe, must recognize we cannot continue on a path of pure partisanship and continue to succeed as a Representative Republic. We are divided into hundreds of special interest groups, lobbying for a point of view.

    I’m reminded of another old expression, “The squeaking wheel gets the oil.” — D C “Dan” Lee

    [Note: D. C. “Dan” Lee is a published author, retired journalist and business man. He has no ties to any political party, although he brands himself a conservative.]


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