Houston Veterans Waited for Care After VA Cancelled Appointments

Nearly 100 veterans in Houston waited an average of 81 days for care after schedulers at a Department of Veterans Affairs hospital cancelled their appointments, a watchdog said this week.

The veterans’ wait times appeared much shorter in electronic scheduling records because staffers at the Michael E. DeBakey Medical Center in Houston, Texas were told to designate appointments as cancelled by the patient when they were really cancelled by the facility, according to a VA inspector general report released on Monday.

Investigators learned through a review that two former scheduling supervisors at the hospital and a current director of two of its outpatient clinics told staffers as recently as February to designate appointments cancelled by the clinic as cancelled by patients.

“This report is a prime example of why VA is still mired in dysfunction. The inspector general caught three VA leaders red-handed instructing their subordinates to manipulate wait times,” Rep. Jeff Miller (R., Fla.), who chairs the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, told the Washington Free Beacon.

Miller said one of the VA leaders was allowed to retire with full benefits, while the other two still work at the VA.

Source: Houston Veterans Waited for Care After VA Cancelled Appointments



I Have Something Important to Say, Especially for the Vietnam Veterans


Image Source: The Frame: Looking back at the Vietnam War

If you are or know a Vietnam Veteran, please read this. It is important.

My parents got screwed by the VA, and I want to make sure it doesn’t happen to another Veteran.

As some of you know, my father became ill a little over a year ago. He is a Veteran, US Army, and he served in Vietnam, one tour. He was exposed to agent orange and was aware of it.

I did a lot of research when my father became ill and I have gotten very acquainted with agent orange over the last year (and I studied hard about the time my dad was there, so I know he was exposed to it… a lot of it). A lot of guys who were over there when my dad was developed the same issue; the VA has settled with around 800 of them. So I pushed my parents to approach the VA for help. They wouldn’t touch him with a 50 foot pole. According to them, this particular illness was not recognized as an effect of agent orange, and his illness was not considered to be combat related.

The VA refused to handle any of his care until I contacted Senator Burr of North Carolina. Suddenly, things they told us they weren’t set up for, etc., they could do for my dad, and insisted on doing it.

Because my father’s issues became severe enough that he needed 24 hour care, he was moved to a skilled nursing facility. The VA, again, would not take him in to one of their Veteran’s nursing facilities. My mother was again told by a social worker at the VA that his illness was not recognized and was not considered a combat illness. Senator Burr’s name was on absolutely everything dealing with my dad, so they gave him the treatment he needed and did maintenance, but would not cover the nursing facility or take him in to their own. They did not qualify for any benefits at all. Mom was told to have dad autopsied when he died, and if agent orange was found, she’d get some benefits. But they can’t help them at all right now, when he needs the help the most.

Well, here’s the part you need to read.

My mother got a call tonight about my dad because things are ever changing and a different social worker called to get paperwork and more details.

This is when my mom found out that the VA does cover what he has under certain circumstances – that my dad meets. According to this social worker, because my dad was boots on the ground during Vietnam and on the ground during a time they knew agent orange was being used – dad was on the ground and fighting for the Tet Offensive – he should have been completely covered. There was no reason for Senator Burr to have to get involved, because he should have automatically been covered for care, and he should have been placed in a VA skilled nursing facility. Senator Burr is the only reason he got any care at all, but that shouldn’t have happened.

Vietnam Veterans: if you were boots on the ground during the war and the VA says you aren’t covered for common illnesses of other Veterans, please start asking questions. This includes several different kinds of cancers. You should not have to wait until you are dead to prove agent orange is in your system so your loved ones get benefits after the fact. They should be helping you while you are alive.

The original social worker who told my mom there was nothing they could do and they were only entitled to benefits after my dad died and they had proof of agent orange exposure gave my mother bad information. Now, because it wasn’t filed at the get go, they can’t get any money back for the multiple thousands of dollars spent for my father’s care that should have been covered by the VA. Mom has the forms to fill out to get filed so it is taken care of from here out, but my dad got sick in November 2014… he isn’t covered for any of that because my mom was given bad information.

Please, guys. You were treated badly by everyone when you returned home. The least they can do is treat you well now. You deserve that. Don’t let them screw you like they screwed my parents. If you find proof other Veterans got the same illness as you, show it to them, especially if benefits were paid out. Keep telling them you were boots on the ground for the war, and tell them how many tours you did. The boots on the ground thing is very important… it gets you covered for a lot of things not normally covered. Don’t just talk to one person. If you have to, get your representatives involved. I can’t tell you how much Senator Burr did for my family, it was amazing, and more than I expected. I really only expected a virtual pat on the head, but Senator Burr dove in head first. A lot of expenses my parents could have ended up with got erased. But a lot more should have been, and weren’t.

This is worth it, guys. You deserve care for whatever you have that could be traced back to that crap they sprayed all over. Your family deserves it, too. Get the help you need, and don’t take the first no you hear… keep fighting. Don’t lose everything with the promise of a payout after your autopsy. No. Get the help you need now!

Vietnam Veteran, I love you, and I thank you for your service. I can’t help you with a lot now, but this… I owed you this. You need to know what I now know. Please don’t get hurt the way my parents were.

Hillary: VA Scandal Not ‘As Widespread’ As Made Out To Be, Republicans ‘Want It To Fail’

Democratic presidential candidate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton argued the VA scandal is not “as widespread as it has been made out to be” and Republicans “want it to fail, so then we can argue for privatization” in an interview broadcast on Friday’s “Rachel Maddow Show” on MSNBC.

Hillary began by stating that she doesn’t understand why fixing the VA has been so difficult, and “I don’t understand why we have such a problem, because there have been a number of surveys of veterans, and, overall, veterans who do get treated are satisfied with their treatment.”

She continued, “Now, nobody would believe that from the coverage that you see, and the constant berating of the VA that comes from the Republicans, in part, in pursuit of this ideological agenda.”

Hillary conceded that there has been a real scandal, but “it’s not been as widespread as it has been made out to be. Now, I do think that some of the reforms that were adopted last year should be given a chance to work.”

Source: Hillary: VA Scandal Not ‘As Widespread’ As Made Out To Be, Republicans ‘Want It To Fail’ – Breitbart

A lot of those people you think “want it to fail” are our Veterans. A lot of them are the ones you, yourself, called the enemy because they are Republicans. So explain to me why the very people who need and deserve those VA benefits want the whole thing to fail. Did you serve, Mrs. Clinton? How about your “husband?” If you had to depend on the VA, you wouldn’t be saying these things.


New VA scandal shows vets cheated out of benefits

But whether the veteran was dead or still alive, brown said VA supervisors in Oakland ordered her team to mark the claims “no action necessary” and to toss them aside. Whistleblowers said that was illegal.

“The VA didn’t help them. The VA didn’t care about them. They took them, they put them in a file, and they stuffed them away,” Brown said.

There were 13,184 veterans who were, Brown said, “begging for help.”

When she raised her concerns, she said she was taken off the project. Then, this past summer, Brown and former VA employee Tony Silviero found a cart full of these same claims, ignored, yet again.

“We pulled 15 indiscriminately to look at; just 15,” Brown said. “Eight of them were owed money. One was owed $36,000.”

She said that was just a few months ago.

via Video: New VA scandal shows vets cheated out of benefits « Hot Air.

And I’m not sure the wait list scandal has been resolved, either. My father is still waiting to see a “primary care doctor” before anything else can be done… and this is with them knowing his diagnosis of brain cancer. We began contacting the VA in December.

Marine Called VA to Reschedule Appointment AFTER His Death, Records Show

The family of a U.S. Marine is demanding answers after Department of Veterans Affairs records indicated that their son had canceled an appointment four days after his death.

Cpl. Jordan Buisman died on Nov. 26, 2012 while waiting for an appointment with a VA doctor in Minneapolis. The records indicate, however, that Buisman called to rescheduled his appointment on Nov. 30.

Here’s more on the story from KARE 11

Earlier this month KARE 11 News reported that two former employees had filed a formal whistleblower complaint with the Veterans Administration’s Office of Inspector General claiming they were instructed to falsify records to make it appear that veterans were cancelling or delaying appointments. They say the practice allowed VA managers to hide long appointment delays.

“So it doesn’t look like we’re the ones causing the delay,” former scheduler Letty Alonso told KARE 11. “It looks like the patient wants that delay.”

Alonso and fellow whistleblower Heather Rossbach were not involved in Buisman’s case, but they say it’s an example of the type of appointment record falsification that prompted them to file their complaint.

Both women say they were fired after they objected to fraudulent practices. They are contesting their firings through the Office of Special Counsel.

Marine Called VA to Reschedule Appointment AFTER His Death, Records Show | Fox News Insider.

At VA Hearing, Doctors Link Wait Times to Deaths

At a heated Congressional hearing Wednesday, two doctors said patient deaths can be linked to delays in care at VA medical centers, a starkly different view than the one painted by an increasingly controversial inspector general’s report.

Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., took a hard line in his questioning of acting VA Inspector General Richard Griffin, expressing skepticism about whether the IG was unduly influenced by VA officials.

At one point Miller banged his gavel to stop Griffin from speaking.

“You want the truth?” Griffin shot back.

“You are out of order,” Miller said.

The VA health-care scandal took its latest troubling turn Wednesday at a hearing of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, where two VA whistleblowers sat next to Griffin as they picked apart his office’s report, which found no link between delayed care and patient deaths.

“As a physician reading this report, I disagree,” Katherine Mitchell, medical director of the Phoenix VA Health Care System’s Iraq and Afghanistan Post-Deployment Center, said in her testimony.

In submitted written testimony, Mitchell went further: “I believe the OIG case review overlooked actual and potential causal relationships between health care delays and veteran deaths.”

Mitchell was joined by retired Phoenix VA doctor Samuel Foote, the whistleblower who helped expose the scandal that led to the resignation of former VA secretary Eric Shinseki and calls for massive reforms and the firing of officials.

At the hearing, Foote said the VA IG’s office used a report on care at VA hospitals as damage control, rather than using it to get to the bottom of major deficiencies in the system. Calling the IG report a “whitewash,” Foote said patient deaths could be linked to delays in care.

“I would like to use this statement to comment on what I view as the foot-dragging, downplaying and frankly, inadequacy of the Inspector General’s Office,” Foote said, saying the report was “designed to minimize the scandal and protect perpetrators.”

The IG investigation found substantial problems in the VA health care system and “ethical lapses” among VA’s senior leadership, but stopped short of linking patient deaths to delays in care.

“It’s very difficult to know how someone died,” Dr. John Daigh, an assistant inspector general who helped draft the report, said in defending his findings. “I’m not clairvoyant.”

At VA Hearing, Doctors Link Wait Times to Deaths.

Tentative Deal Reached on VA Reform

The plan is intended to “make VA more accountable and to help the department recruit more doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals.” Miller and Sanders said.

Few details of the agreement were released, but the bill is expected to authorize billions in emergency spending to lease new 27 clinics, hire more doctors and nurses and make it easier for veterans who can’t get prompt appointments with VA doctors to get outside care.

Sanders proposed a bill last week that would cost about $25 billion over three years. Miller countered with a plan to approve $10 billion in emergency spending, with a promise of more spending in future years under the normal congressional budget process.

Miller’s bill would keep most of the provisions in a Senate-passed bill and would authorize about $100 million for the Veterans Affairs Department to address shortfalls in the current budget year.

Both bills cost significantly less than bills approved last month by the House and Senate.