Sixth VA office probing “inappropriate scheduling”

posted at 10:01 am on May 13, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

The scandal at the Veterans Administration expanded to a sixth office, this time in Durham, North Carolina. Two employees got suspended during a pre-audit check of wait-time records that went all the way back to 2009. The audits have been ordered by VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, who got served with a Congressional subpoena last week to testify in the scandal that may have cost the lives of dozens of vets in Phoenix:

WNCN: News, Weather

The Veterans Health Administration has placed two Durham VA Medical Center employees on administrative leave after learning the employees may have “engaged in inappropriate scheduling practices.”

In preparation for an audit, VHA learned on Monday that some employees at the Durham VA “may have engaged in inappropriate scheduling practices at some point between 2009 and 2012.”

The audit was scheduled as part of a national audit of patient access and scheduling as directed by Department of Veterans Affairs Sec. Eric Shinseki.

Shinseki is expected to testify on Thursday on wait-time fraud, and still refuses to step down. This report comes from KGNS in Laredo, Texas before North Carolina got added to the list of states where wait-list irregularities have taken place:

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki is scheduled to testify Tuesday about the state of the Department of Veterans Affairs, with Senate lawmakers poised to question him about VA health clinics allegedly covering up treatment delays.

The hearing, which takes place with the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee starting at 10 a.m., comes just eight days after the American Legion called for Shinseki and two of his top executives to resign over the latest controversy and a string of other troubles, including the agency’s longstanding backlog of disability claims and preventable deaths at its medical centers.

Shinseki has been VA Secretary for over five years. Either his administration was not competent enough to spot this fraud, or it’s complicit in it. When a competent executive imposes a metric for service — and a 14-day wait time was an ambitious and deliberate metric — the competent executive puts safeguards in place to ensure that underlings don’t try to squirrel around them. Instead of exercising competent follow-up, the VA instead at the very least allowed for wait-list fraud to flourish across the country, and not just in one particular office.

It’s time for Shinseki to step down, and for President Obama to find a more competent executive to clean up the mess.


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“Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi! Why aren’t we talking about something else?” – blowhard.

okey dokey…

Electrongod on May 13, 2014 at 10:05 AM

…a rouge hospital!

KOOLAID2 on May 13, 2014 at 10:10 AM

Shinseki is a minority and a Dim. Only white men/Republicans are asked to step down.

Get it. Got it. Good.

annoyinglittletwerp on May 13, 2014 at 10:10 AM

Shinseki has been VA Secretary for over five years. Either his administration was not competent enough to spot this fraud, or it’s complicit in it.

…what is everybody guessing?…there’s only two choices!…(usually it’s multiple choice)

KOOLAID2 on May 13, 2014 at 10:13 AM

Shinseki is expected to testify on Thursday on wait-time fraud, and still refuses to step down.

Shinseki was at one time an honorable man. I would like somebody to ask him if he would have kept one of his subordinate commanders in charge after it has become clear that there has been a record of fraud and cover-up for five years and soldiers have died as a direct result of these actions.

It is obvious that saying mean things about GWB wasn’t all that great a qualification for running the VA.

Happy Nomad on May 13, 2014 at 10:16 AM

Find someone else???
His track record is pathetic

cmsinaz on May 13, 2014 at 10:19 AM

Who exactly is surprised about this? This is how is Regime WORKS.

If this is happening in one VA it’s going on all over the country.

Leftists all work the same way, dirty, deceitful and lawless. If they didn’t work this way, they wouldn’t be leftists to begin with.

Meople on May 13, 2014 at 10:20 AM

This is what federal government run health care looks like.

Why can’t VA care be supplemental insurance, designed to cover those “pre-existing conditions” incurred during military service? It would make things easier for everyone and leverage the efficiencies (such as they are) of the medical marketplace.

Buck Farky on May 13, 2014 at 10:20 AM

Once is an oddity. Twice is a coincidence. Thrice is a conspiracy. Six times? A well thought out and deliberate strategy. Heads do not need to roll, with 40+ deaths people need to be in jail. At the highest level.

rbj on May 13, 2014 at 10:22 AM

I am hopeful but not optimistic this isn’t the case at the big VA center in Salisbury, NC. It’s probably our largest one with almost 500 beds, plus satellites all over the central and western part of the State.

ProudinNC on May 13, 2014 at 10:23 AM

ObamaCare.

That alone should scare the heck out of people knowing how the VA is being ran.

See much of the problem is people think such things just could not happen in the US. They put way to much trust into government thats the problem….

This is what you get.

watertown on May 13, 2014 at 10:28 AM

Once is an oddity. Twice is a coincidence. Thrice is a conspiracy. Six times? A well thought out and deliberate strategy. Heads do not need to roll, with 40+ deaths people need to be in jail. At the highest level.

rbj on May 13, 2014 at 10:22 AM

Hey, it was just a bunch of rogue hospitals not an indictment of the VA system….. or something.

Seriously, faking wait times was clearly an institutional practice and not something that low-level workers cooked up on their own. In its own way this is just as big a scandal as Benghazi, the IRS trageting, or Fast and Furious.

Despite being defiant, I don’t see how Shinseki lasts much longer. American Legion has already called on him to resign and I suspect that most of the other main veterans’ groups will follow as the deceit and coverup becomes more widespread.

Happy Nomad on May 13, 2014 at 10:28 AM

Yet you can pretty much bet that somehow the Mainstream Media will find a way to not only insulate the Obama Administration from the VA scandal, but use it as a distraction from other more important scandals like Fast and Furious or Benghazi.

oscarwilde on May 13, 2014 at 10:32 AM

All the fault of a few low level Cincinnati government employees…

PatriotRider on May 13, 2014 at 10:36 AM

Private sector basketball team owner utters caustic remarks in private and it’s “Step down, you pig! Force him out! Take everything away from him!”

Government administrator fails in oversight that has cost veterans their lives?

“Well you know, these things happen.”

Bishop on May 13, 2014 at 10:36 AM

Yet you can pretty much bet that somehow the Mainstream Media will find a way to not only insulate the Obama Administration from the VA scandal, but use it as a distraction from other more important scandals like Fast and Furious or Benghazi.

oscarwilde on May 13, 2014 at 10:32 AM

The common thread in all of them: People die.

Bishop on May 13, 2014 at 10:37 AM

He will not resign, nor will zero demand his resignation.

That’s how this administration rolls.

rightside on May 13, 2014 at 10:38 AM

The common thread in all of them: People die.

Bishop on May 13, 2014 at 10:37 AM

I’m pretty sure that was the goal…thin the herd…reduce costs…

PatriotRider on May 13, 2014 at 10:40 AM

As bad as this is just imagine how bad the insurance we give to the Indian Tribes on reserzations then times that by about a 1000% and imagine Obamacare is gonna be. You think that might be why Congress oped out and to stay with their own?

If Shinseki had any shred of honor left he would have resigned weeks ago. Like most of today’s flag rank when the rubber hits the road they do what’s best for themselves and screw over those they are in charge of.

warren on May 13, 2014 at 10:43 AM

Despite being defiant, I don’t see how Shinseki lasts much longer. American Legion has already called on him to resign and I suspect that most of the other main veterans’ groups will follow as the deceit and coverup becomes more widespread.

Happy Nomad on May 13, 2014 at 10:28 AM

Shinseki isn’t going to resign. No one from this administration is ever forced to step down. Plus, Shinseki is an anti-Bush hero to the left as well. If the Republicans embarass him too much, the media will just say it’s because of his opposition to the Iraq War.

Doomberg on May 13, 2014 at 10:45 AM

Look at how many people called for kathleen sebacious to resign!

Not gonna happen!

rightside on May 13, 2014 at 10:46 AM

In Texas, you have to be bleeding out of your arse before they will give you a colonoscopy.

Sven on May 13, 2014 at 10:50 AM

It’s time for Shinseki to step down, and for President Obama to find a more competent executive to clean up the mess.

Something I’ve observed in years in industry, -it takes competence to hire competence.

slickwillie2001 on May 13, 2014 at 10:57 AM

I’ll bet you can trace the origin of this fraud back to a VA hospital conference, where they all gathered inside a closed room and were instructed on how to comply with the waiting list requirements…you know…to stay off the bad boys list.

BobMbx on May 13, 2014 at 11:00 AM

The common thread in all of them: People die.

Bishop on May 13, 2014 at 10:37 AM

I’m pretty sure that was the goal…thin the herd…reduce costs…

PatriotRider on May 13, 2014 at 10:40 AM

Terrorist reduction measures.

BobMbx on May 13, 2014 at 11:01 AM

Look, if I unexpectedly inherited the ownership of a MLB team, would I suddenly be able to hire a competent General Manager?

No, I’m completely ignorant when it comes to what’s needed to manage a ball club.

Neither can Obama evaluate the administrative abilities of one of his underlings, and for the same reason.

He is totally ignorant of anything but political reliability.

As I think more deeply on this subject, I am convinced this Administration has actually instituted the establishment of the official Zampolit i.e. Political Officer in American government. After all, it was a great idea that just wasn’t implemented properly in the Soviet Union.

Political reliability appears be the foremost criteria in Obama’s World.

Dolce Far Niente on May 13, 2014 at 11:05 AM

I am hopeful but not optimistic this isn’t the case at the big VA center in Salisbury, NC. It’s probably our largest one with almost 500 beds, plus satellites all over the central and western part of the State.

ProudinNC on May 13, 2014 at 10:23 AM

I take a friend to the VA in Salisbury. I’m not going to be surprised at all if they are corrupt like the rest. It’s a real crap shoot as to the treatment you get. The place is loaded with foreign doctors, so much so that there is occasionally a language barrier. There are patients that served in Afghanistan being treated by Pakistani and Lebanese doctors. Sometimes I wonder where these doctors’ (and PAs) sympathies lie.

ReaganWasRight on May 13, 2014 at 11:08 AM

ProudinNC on May 13, 2014 at 10:23 AM

It’s this one, across the street from Duke University Hospital

lineholder on May 13, 2014 at 11:20 AM

My husband died at the VA in Tampa.

Just sayin’

Key West Reader on May 13, 2014 at 11:26 AM

NO. They didn’t “allow” anything to flourish.

When you have six different regions doing the exact same thing to falsify the same data – and earn bonuses for the phony “improvement” to wait times – they didn’t each come up with the idea independently.

Shinseki may not be involved, he’s a bit of a dim bulb anyway. But someone hatched this scheme in DC and passed it down to the regional offices.

Adjoran on May 13, 2014 at 11:31 AM

ReaganWasRight on May 13, 2014 at 11:08 AM

TRICARE has a mutli-tiered payment system set up, and it includes lower payment rates when services are offered by foreign medical students in training. (See pages 2&3 of this)

lineholder on May 13, 2014 at 11:37 AM

No, I’m completely ignorant when it comes to what’s needed to manage a ball club.

Neither can Obama evaluate the administrative abilities of one of his underlings, and for the same reason.

He is totally ignorant of anything but political reliability.

Dolce Far Niente on May 13, 2014 at 11:05 AM

I agree in principle, but with one caveat. Shinseki was Chief of Staff of the United States Army. I can forgive Obama for assuming that he would be able to run an organization like the VA. I would absolutely expect a four-star to be up to the task. Shinseki’s left leanings were just icing on the cake for Obama.

GAbred on May 13, 2014 at 11:39 AM

I take a friend to the VA in Salisbury. I’m not going to be surprised at all if they are corrupt like the rest. It’s a real crap shoot as to the treatment you get. The place is loaded with foreign doctors, so much so that there is occasionally a language barrier. There are patients that served in Afghanistan being treated by Pakistani and Lebanese doctors. Sometimes I wonder where these doctors’ (and PAs) sympathies lie.

ReaganWasRight on May 13, 2014 at 11:08 AM

Yeah, last time we visited there in 2013 I noticed a “change” from when I was there in the early 2000s with my uncle. I do have a close friend who’s ex-dad-in-law is a doc there, he says it’s a daily battle to just stay above the flood of paperwork. He left a large practice in Winston-Salem in 2006 to go there, cause he felt the need to do good for the veterans. I will have to ask my friend if he’s shocked by this crap.

It’s this one, across the street from Duke University Hospital

lineholder on May 13, 2014 at 11:20 AM

And sadly, Duke is one of the best hospitals in the country. Right across the street from where the VA was doing this crap.

ProudinNC on May 13, 2014 at 11:39 AM

Shinseki isn’t going to resign. No one from this administration is ever forced to step down. Plus, Shinseki is an anti-Bush hero to the left as well. If the Republicans embarass him too much, the media will just say it’s because of his opposition to the Iraq War.

Doomberg on May 13, 2014 at 10:45 AM

Look, all things being equal you’re probably right that the administration will stand by their guy. Who the hell do a bunch of taxpayers and veterans think they are in questioning the all-knowing and all-seeing wisdom that is our rat-eared king?

But this is an election year and my guess is that all the major veterans’ groups (American Legion, VFW, DAV, etc.) are ultimately going to call for his resignation. And all the Congresscritters are going to be fielding phone calls and e-mails calling for resignation from their constituents who are vets. That’s a lot of pressure to ignore just to keep a dishonorable and incompetent guy in your cabinet since he was critical of GWB.

Happy Nomad on May 13, 2014 at 11:42 AM

I agree in principle, but with one caveat. Shinseki was Chief of Staff of the United States Army. I can forgive Obama for assuming that he would be able to run an organization like the VA. I would absolutely expect a four-star to be up to the task. Shinseki’s left leanings were just icing on the cake for Obama.

GAbred on May 13, 2014 at 11:39 AM

Do you think maybe Shinseki is another Colin Powell?

slickwillie2001 on May 13, 2014 at 11:42 AM

And BTW, other than a comment of support from Jay Carney has the rat-eared bastard weighed in on this? I mean it only involves the deaths of veterans at the hands of a corrupt system headed up by a dishonorable crap weasel. I know it isn’t something important like a mediocre gay football player or scowling at the camera with a hashtag BUT the filthy bastard is the CINC.

Happy Nomad on May 13, 2014 at 11:45 AM

obama and his goons kill Veterans, for bonuses.

Schadenfreude on May 13, 2014 at 11:48 AM

I agree in principle, but with one caveat. Shinseki was Chief of Staff of the United States Army. I can forgive Obama for assuming that he would be able to run an organization like the VA. I would absolutely expect a four-star to be up to the task. Shinseki’s left leanings were just icing on the cake for Obama.

GAbred on May 13, 2014 at 11:39 AM

I’ll repeat the question I posted above.

When Shinseki was on active duty as Chief of Staff of the US Army, would he have tolerated five years of incompetence by one of his subordinates without making some leadership changes at the top levels? Especially after it became known that there was institutional corruption that was killing soldiers. The fact of the matter is that you are not going to scare the VA’s regional coordinators out of killing people if they see that the organization above them is protected with the only ones punished are low-level workers who actually were faking wait time numbers.

Happy Nomad on May 13, 2014 at 11:50 AM

This is going to be like the Chinese water torture…drip, drip, drip

One or 2 new VA hospitals exposed every week until it becomes a flood that is impossible to ignore.

Everything at the VA is done by cookbook procedures, so I am sure it is official, unofficial policy to fake the numbers.

txdoc on May 13, 2014 at 11:51 AM

There also appear to be some changes in process for hospice under both Medicare and TRICARE.
This is still open for comments on the Federal Register through July 01, 2014.

lineholder on May 13, 2014 at 11:58 AM

Do you think maybe Shinseki is another Colin Powell?

slickwillie2001 on May 13, 2014 at 11:42 AM

I’m not sure I understand. Are you asking if I think that he was promoted due to affirmative action? I was just an enlisted guy (USAF) but I can’t make myself believe that affirmative action could get a person all the way to four stars, to say nothing of getting them to chief of staff and chairman of the joint chiefs.

Are you asking if his promotion was entirely political? Yeah, I guess it could have been. Maybe I’m just Pollyannaish about the abilities necessary to secure a promotion to general officer.

GAbred on May 13, 2014 at 12:04 PM

It’s not clear to me why we have VA hospitals. Surely the service would be better (and it would be much cheaper) if vets were to have their health care needs taken care of in ordinary hospitals at govt. expense.

Surellin on May 13, 2014 at 12:30 PM

Private sector basketball team owner utters caustic remarks in private and it’s “Step down, you pig! Force him out! Take everything away from him!”

Government administrator fails in oversight that has cost veterans their lives?

“Well you know, these things happen.”

Bishop on May 13, 2014 at 10:36 AM

Bears repeating.

Nobody says it better …

ShainS on May 13, 2014 at 12:44 PM

I must have missed this on the national news. Guess these are categorized as local stories while the gay dude drafted in the last round is of utmost national importance.

HumpBot Salvation on May 13, 2014 at 12:48 PM

Are you asking if his promotion was entirely political? Yeah, I guess it could have been. Maybe I’m just Pollyannaish about the abilities necessary to secure a promotion to general officer.

GAbred on May 13, 2014 at 12:04 PM

I think you’re being naive to think we have warriors as general officers these days. They are all politicians in uniform with the exception of the Commandant of the Marine Corps. Shinseki, back he had some honor, was probably a capable soldier but that only gets you to Colonel. It’s timing and cronyism that gets you the next step. Like when Wesley Clark got advanced over far more senior flag officers because of his good friend Bill Clinton. When Kosovo flared up and Clark as SACEUR became a de facto diplomat with armed forces.

Happy Nomad on May 13, 2014 at 12:51 PM

and for President Obama to find a more competent executive to clean up the mess.

The only thing funny in the whole thread. Lolz!

Bmore on May 13, 2014 at 12:54 PM

My husband died at the VA in Tampa.

Just sayin’

Key West Reader on May 13, 2014 at 11:26 AM

And, I lost my job at the VA (during my provisional period) back in 2005 or so b/c I “spent too much $$” keeping a vet in our ICU waiting for an opening at a head trauma unit in Fla. He got in, and come back as completely functioning human being. But,I’d spent “too much $$” doing so, or so the new administrator said in front of all the staff in our morning meeting. BTW, no reason for the firing was given the next week.

avagreen on May 13, 2014 at 1:25 PM

Having work along side the VA (not employed by them, mind you) for over 16 + years, I can almost assure you folks that these issues do not happen in a vacuum, much like how we were told the IRS targeting conservative groups was done by low level, rogue employees. It’s management at the upper levels of the VA are all about numbers and deadlines, quality be damned.

And another problem is that it is virtually impossible to fire p*ss poor upper level managers. Too often, the VA will move them out and move them up, the proverbial ‘screw up and move up.’ Granted, lower level management and non-management employees can be fired, but that is a long, drawn out process because of the AFGE Union, which is one reason I do not believe public servants should be unionized.

Should people go to jail for this fiasco? Absolutely, without a doubt. Will they? Probably not.

Gothguy on May 13, 2014 at 1:41 PM

How about some old dirty bug infested Goverment blankets?

Only thing that will flourish out of this crime will be the use of the 5th amendment.

Put some fake vets into the waiting room list, have them bugged with audio and camers.

My guess is James O’Keefe etal have lots of tape in the can.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on May 13, 2014 at 1:42 PM

There are scam the system operations active in every waiting room of every VA center.

The Agent Orange scam the leader still.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on May 13, 2014 at 1:44 PM

One sure bet: No one from ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC, PBS, or the AP will have any knowledge of the crime.

See, hear, speak no evil of the evil of the commie thug Democrats.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on May 13, 2014 at 1:56 PM

There are scam the system operations active in every waiting room of every VA center.

The Agent Orange scam the leader still.

APACHEWHOKNOWS

I have seen this written before by you…care to elaborate?

Gothguy on May 13, 2014 at 2:03 PM

These law firms who put the adds on TV about “we will get you more disability”, they have guys on finder fees who sit around the VA hospital wait rooms looking for marks. They take note of newbies and as the wait times are so long they find a way to sit down and chit chat with the newbie and often the wife or care taker who is there. End game is to get the person to use the law firm. They do know how to coach the vet into doing the right thing to game the system.

Same on Agent Orang, we over heard one of the finders telling a newbie Vietnam vet to be sure to use a TDI in a place where the scam guy knows agent orange was used on a certin date.

Once we heard it go down in one wait room we took our time and went to two others, saw the same thing going on. Once one of them even ask us , we told him no but there it was in our face.

The VA has to know it is going on, the clerks who sit and watch it day and day our know the scam guys are there doing this, they have to know.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on May 13, 2014 at 2:19 PM

The current U.S. Goverment is a failed state operation.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on May 13, 2014 at 2:27 PM

Don’t forget that the VA medical system is really the first large scale socialized medical system in the US. It’s failures line up exactly with dire Obamacare predictions: Long wait times, poor administration, lack of consideration for individual circumstances, rationing through wait time attrition and initial obstacles to care (not worth the hassle), overworked & demoralized staff, ancient and monolithic paperwork requirements, etc… It’s like a window into the future for the Obamacare.

Mortifico on May 13, 2014 at 2:31 PM

“When a competent executive imposes a metric for service — and a 14-day wait time was an ambitious and deliberate metric — the competent executive puts safeguards in place to ensure that underlings don’t try to squirrel around them.”

Except, of course, when the competent executive knows full well that there aren’t enough funds to meet the metric, but there is plenty of pressure from the cheapjack Congress to make it look like it is being met. Then he has two choices — push back and make it plain that the waitlists will be shortened only if Congress comes up with more doctors, more equipment and more beds, or say “Yessir,” pass the requirement down and trust his underlings to cook the books and hide the cooking.

Unfortunately, in all enterprises, private, governmental, and military, the second path drives out the ethical and rewards the dishonest. Everyone is perfectly aware that the coverup can’t last, and everyone hopes that it will last until they are safely elsewhere or retired. Meanwhile, there is praise, promotion and bonuses for the best liars. Most of the time, this only wastes money. In this case, it wastes lives.

wagnert in atlanta on May 13, 2014 at 2:48 PM

Of course this all has happened since Obama took office; he didn’t want people to be able to point at the VA and say “See how bad the VA is, that is how your health insurance will be under Obamacare”. Thus, they created this false metric and then they lied in order to make it look like it was working. Don’t be surprised if this is happening all over the country and that it came down from the very top. It is just another in the long list of frauds/scandals/lies perpetrated by the Obama administration.

Theophile on May 13, 2014 at 11:20 PM

Ed,
I worked for the VA (leaving city out of it) as a clerk (processes appointments) and I will tell you that something similar happens there too.

My biggest complaint was the 14-day standard. What happens is
–>a patient calls in and needs an appt
–>The clerk go into the system and checks for appt availability
–>Since the next appt isn’t available until one month from now, they go back out of the system and then back in
–>The clerk enters the date (a month from now or so) and puts in that future date as the date the patient requested so that the VAMC has great reports when it comes to meeting the standard.

Unfortunately garbage data in means garbage data out!

matthew26 on May 14, 2014 at 9:55 AM