VA run like a “crime syndicate,” whistleblower alleges

posted at 10:01 am on May 28, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Really? At least thus far, it looks more like a typical government bureaucracy, full of non-accountability and focus on covering rears rather than customer service. Of course, that’s what it looks like from the outside. The Daily Beast’s Jacob Siegel talks to one Texas whistleblower who says the view from the inside is much, much worse:

Emails and VA memos obtained exclusively by The Daily Beast provide what is among the most comprehensive accounts yet of how high-level VA hospital employees conspired to game the system. It shows not only how they manipulated hospital wait lists but why—to cover up the weeks and months veterans spent waiting for needed medical care. If those lag times had been revealed, it would have threatened the executives’ bonus pay.

What’s worse, the documents show the wrongdoing going unpunished for years, even after it was repeatedly reported to local and national VA authorities. That indicates a new troubling angle to the VA scandal: that the much touted investigations may be incapable of finding violations that are hiding in plain sight.

“For lack of a better term, you’ve got an organized crime syndicate,” a whistleblower who works in the Texas VA told The Daily Beast. “People up on top are suddenly afraid they may actually be prosecuted and they’re pressuring the little guys down below to cover it all up.”

“I see it in the executives’ eyes,” the whistleblower added. “They are worried.”

They should be, especially if they’re still pressuring employees to cover their tracks through deceit and fraud. Now that the scandal is out in the open, those who are getting that kind of pressure should be thinking about keeping records of all these requests. Eventually, investigators will reconstruct the paper trails that lead back to their own offices, and they will need to direct the attention of these investigators to those who wanted the cover-up in the first place.

This also demonstrates why it’s sheer folly to have an executive team investigate itself. Eric Shinseki had five-plus years to discover this issue, and either he was too incompetent to do so, he willfully ignored it, or worse. This period of self-investigation essentially gives everyone a few extra months to cover their tracks, and at least according to Siegel’s source, VA executives are making the most of the time. It also sends the message down to the rank and file that Barack Obama cares more about preserving the command structure at VA than he does about solving the problem — and that provides another set of perverse incentives for corruption.

The whistleblower has already learned the first lesson, and given Siegel a taste of what investigators should expect to find:

The case of Dr. Joseph Spann, a recently retired doctor who reported malfeasance in the Texas VA system, where he worked for 17 years, raises the possibility that official investigations may only be hiding the problems they were charged to root out.

After retiring in January of this year Spann sent a letter to VA investigatorsaccusing a VA employee of manipulating patient wait lists to hide treatment delays for veterans. The rigged reporting scheme Spann described in his letter, which threatens veterans’ lives by delaying their treatment, is the same method that has been exposed in Phoenix, Cheyenne, Albuquerque, and scores of other VA hospitals across the country.

According to Spann, Dr. Gordon Vincent, chief of radiology at Olin E. Teague Veterans Medical Center in Temple, Texas, didn’t just break VA policy by manipulating veterans’ appointments himself. He ordered VA employees across the state to engage in the same fraudulent practice.

The VA shrugged off this allegation, but Siegel has a document that seems to clearly substantiate Spann’s allegations against Vincent. And the same internal reviewers that ignored this the first time around are being asked to conduct another investigation of the same problem. Want to bet how that will turn out?

Let’s not forget that the VA isn’t the only single-payer bureaucracy for those in the military. Active-duty personnel get care through military providers in the Department of Defense. Secretary Chuck Hagel has decided to get ahead of the curve and check to see whether the same problem exists in his own organization:

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Tuesday ordered a 90-day comprehensive review of the military health system in the wake of allegations that Veterans Affairs hospitals falsified data about how quickly veterans were being treated.

The Pentagon said Dr. Jonathan Woodson, the assistant defense secretary for health affairs, would lead the review, focusing on access to health care and quality of that care. A statement said the review would cover military treatment facilities and care contracted from civilian providers.

The statement noted that the military system, which is separate from the VA system, serves nearly 10 million beneficiaries, including active duty service members, retirees and family members. The VA system says it serves more than 8.3 million veterans each year.

It’s a smart move, but it suffers from the same flaw as the VA internal probe — self-investigation.

Meanwhile, we can add Seattle to the list of areas where suspicions of wait-list fraud have arisen:

Addendum: Andrew Malcolm wonders, “What’s not to trust in an Obama team probe of the Obama team?”


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Really? At least thus far, it looks more like a typical government bureaucracy, full of non-accountability and focus on covering rears rather than customer service.

Is there a difference between your typical government bureaucracy and a crime syndicate these days? Aside from crime syndicates having more respect for human life of course.

Doughboy on May 28, 2014 at 10:03 AM

And our President cut his Political teeth where??

Oh that’s right, CHICAGO….

ToddPA on May 28, 2014 at 10:05 AM

Well to be fair, “government bureaucracy” and “crime syndicates” are often confused due to their similarity in operation.

dominigan on May 28, 2014 at 10:05 AM

Here we go with the push rhetoric. When a straightforward objective investigation will decimate your people, go out there and trumpet absurd exaggerations. Then when the absird allegations are debunked, follow up with “see? told you it was blown out of proportion.”

These political blowhards are beyond despicable – they are flat-out agents of Satan.

platypus on May 28, 2014 at 10:06 AM

If those lag times had been revealed, it would have threatened the executives’ bonus pay.

Wait a minute. This is about bonus pay?!?!?!

I thought this was a typical case of CYA. This is out and out fraud.

Jail time, and I mean large jail time…

JohnGalt23 on May 28, 2014 at 10:07 AM

Kevin Williamson is correct – nearly all government institutions are cartels, monopolies and/or crime syndicates.

gwelf on May 28, 2014 at 10:09 AM

You mean, run like the Democrat Party?

That sounds about right …

ShainS on May 28, 2014 at 10:09 AM

These political blowhards are beyond despicable – they are flat-out agents of Satan.
platypus on May 28, 2014 at 10:06 AM

And they run … just about everything.

Cleombrotus on May 28, 2014 at 10:09 AM

WORSE than a crime syndicate. When bureaucrats mess up, you can’t shoot them in the head (so they can’t have an open casket burial — see “Godfather”).

LashRambo on May 28, 2014 at 10:10 AM

Wait a minute. This is about bonus pay?!?!?!

JohnGalt23 on May 28, 2014 at 10:07 AM

It’s free money, just laying on the table to be picked up. Why not!

/what difference, at this point, does it make

LashRambo on May 28, 2014 at 10:12 AM

Obama’s minions investigating themselves? Yeah right. The only way to effect change is to embarrass this administration. We need millions of vets front and center in front of the White house demanding resignations. Be loud and proud.

HotAirian on May 28, 2014 at 10:12 AM

VA run like a “crime syndicate,” whistleblower alleges

No, when you screw up in a “crime syndicate” – you get wacked….

In the VA you get a bonus.

redguy on May 28, 2014 at 10:12 AM

The fact that this whole thing is about executive bonus checks for “good performance” is maddening.

Mord on May 28, 2014 at 10:14 AM

Saying that VA runs like a crime syndicate is like saying that Al Capone was acting like a gangster. They are a crime syndicate.

Rix on May 28, 2014 at 10:17 AM

Be loud and proud.

HotAirian on May 28, 2014 at 10:12 AM

So you only want the fruiter vets there? Or were you being sarcastic? If it’s the former, we could call it the coming out rally.

platypus on May 28, 2014 at 10:19 AM

Now is the time we need the swat teams and investigators to swoop into the offices of these criminals and seize records.

Wine_N_Dine on May 28, 2014 at 10:20 AM

Eventually, investigators will reconstruct the paper trails that lead back to their own offices, and they will need to direct the attention of these investigators to those who wanted the cover-up in the first place.

LOL, no they wont.

Seriously, have you been paying attention? The VA folks and these ‘investigators’ certainly have. Pick a scandal, any scandal. Pick an investigation, any investigation.

Cite one f*cking person that’s been held to account for one f*cking thing, please.

Midas on May 28, 2014 at 10:20 AM

Hell, a decrepit old congressman can’t even be expected to be held to the strict letter of the law with regard to the number of signatures required to be on the ballot.

The President is really pissed now, going to get to the bottom of this and kick some a$$es, if he only knew which ones to kick – and pretty soon; dude, that VA thing was like months ago, why you Republicans keep throwing shade on Obama like that?

Midas on May 28, 2014 at 10:23 AM

Nothing to see here. Move on. Move on. At most it’s nothing more than a very few ROGUE AGENTS.

GarandFan on May 28, 2014 at 10:24 AM

The fact that this whole thing is about executive bonus checks for “good performance” is maddening.

Mord on May 28, 2014 at 10:14 AM

Infuriating. Inciting. Enraging.

Words fail to describe my anger at this…

JohnGalt23 on May 28, 2014 at 10:26 AM

“If this is true, I’ll be madder than hell, but we can’t comment further since it may interfere with the ongoing super badass investigation we’re doing on ourselves. Check back in two years, dude.”

forest on May 28, 2014 at 10:28 AM

There is a 3rd single payer system that the Government runs – Indian Health Services. IHS is at least as bad as the VA but you never hear anything about it. Bigotry? Racism? Between IHS, the VA and the military health system, NOBODY in their right mind would want the Feds any where near their healthcare. Just saying.

oldgeezer on May 28, 2014 at 10:32 AM

On 2 + 2 =’s fraud still.

Take two high priced national adds for a law firm to “help with our knowledge of how to get a larger “disibility check from the VA”
add that with two or more “law firm finder types” working the wait rooms of all the major VA hospitals.
“You new here,,?, I know a guy who knows the VA ropes…, he knows where agent orange was used from prior cases and if you say you were TDI there the dates, its a slam dunk for a bigger check…”

The “public service federal union members who work there in the wait room areas know this “dung” is going down….. not a peep.

It is just one more way to collect tainted union dues to buy re-election money for more commie thug Democrats.

Fight them, vote them out, shine the light of truth on them.
The msm will never do one dang thing.

It is U.S. vs the commie Democrats and pissant rinos.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on May 28, 2014 at 10:36 AM

Eventually, investigators will reconstruct the paper trails that lead back to their own offices,

Why do I doubt that? Inhouse investigations just provide a cover to keep from having to comment on a scandal and allow the tracking down of current and potential whistleblowers so they can be dealt with. This calls for an independent prosecutor in conjunction with a congressional joint committee hearing. The task is not just to hold to account, it should be to fix the problem once and for all. That will take real investigations, prosecutions and legislation.

BTW — Most Federal workers want honest management. They will appreciate a clean up.

KW64 on May 28, 2014 at 10:42 AM

correction:

“Run like a Democrat Party second rate crime synidicate”

APACHEWHOKNOWS on May 28, 2014 at 10:45 AM

“People up on top are suddenly afraid they may actually be prosecuted and they’re pressuring the little guys down below to cover it all up.”

Disgusting.

They’re worried about prosecution AND missing out on the bonuses they earned on the backs of veterans.

Prosecution isn’t good enough for these rotten people.

Mark Boabaca on May 28, 2014 at 10:46 AM

Private company promises a service.

Private company lies about services being provided.

Dozens of people die or commit suicide while waiting for services.

What happens to private company.

Drag every last one of those corrupt scumbags to Dover AFB, take them up in a C5 to 40,000 feet, drop the rear ramp, and tell them to start walking.

Bishop on May 28, 2014 at 10:46 AM

Cite one f*cking person that’s been held to account for one f*cking thing, please.

Midas on May 28, 2014 at 10:20 AM

GAME, SET, MATCH

ToddPA on May 28, 2014 at 10:47 AM

Long ago the words of honest federal workers these words were set aside for usefull fools.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on May 28, 2014 at 10:47 AM

My experience with the military health system has been generally positive. It’s a bit anonymous – you don’t get the same doctor every time – but that’s the system.

My family’s treatment via TRICARE has been exemplary. I have a daughter with special needs (brain-related birth defects) and the MTF we use (NAVHOSP Portsmouth, VA) has been excellent.

Buck Farky on May 28, 2014 at 10:48 AM

The “public service federal union members who work there in the wait room areas know this “dung” is going down….. not a peep.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on May 28, 2014 at 10:36 AM

Yep, there are enough people beyond the upper level jackholes who knew this was going on and said nothing. Soldiers who fought for their freedom begging for help and those scumbags helped cover it up or at the least kept their rat mouths shut.

Bishop on May 28, 2014 at 10:49 AM

OT…O is speaking at West Point. I am so disturbed and angry I can’t type.

O’s attempt to divert attention fromt he VA scandal is ridiculous. I know I am not alone at the disgust I feel for the way the VA has gotten worse not better under O. Seems every direction you look…same result.

CoffeeLover on May 28, 2014 at 10:51 AM

We haven’t uncovered a smidgen of corruption from our investigation of ourselves. Damn Republicans, why can’t they just take my word for it, I mean I am their Imper….I mean President.

Sven on May 28, 2014 at 10:56 AM

Sorry, this cudgel can only be used to bash Obama. We couldn’t possibly use it to bash single-payer health care, especially since we kind of like that.

- The GOPe

Occams Stubble on May 28, 2014 at 11:04 AM

When the top people are as supercilious as the Obamas, the mindset filters down and permeates all the agencies like a speading mold. It then becomes a free-for-all to take what you can while it’s there for the taking.

Another example of a failed single payer system is the medical care on Indian reservations. Ask them how good it is especially during the end of the fiscal year when they run out of money. The name Redskins for a football team isn’t high on their list of priorities.

iamsaved on May 28, 2014 at 11:05 AM

Isn’t everything the Feds do these days run like a crime syndicate?

formwiz on May 28, 2014 at 11:06 AM

Seriously, have you been paying attention? The VA folks and these ‘investigators’ certainly have. Pick a scandal, any scandal. Pick an investigation, any investigation.

Cite one f*cking person that’s been held to account for one f*cking thing, please.

Midas on May 28, 2014 at 10:20 AM

Well, I will name one, and their are others, so you are just plain wrong in your assertion that no one has been held accountable for on f*cking thing.

The whistleblower on Benghazi, Gregory Hicks, was demoted and held accountable for talking to senate investigators regarding Benghazi…the only person held accountable was a citizen who talked to investigators after being ordered not to talk to any investigators.

So you are wrong, this administration, also you may take note that the man who made the video is still in prison…

And you probably never heard of David Weber, he worked (attorney) for the SEC and brought to light that China was hacking our computers, the administration didn’t like that he was forcing them to take a stand.

right2bright on May 28, 2014 at 11:06 AM

Well, we do have don Obama in the White House and his number two running the justice department. Then, we have Clemenza running the VA and Tesio running the IRS.

cajunpatriot on May 28, 2014 at 11:10 AM

The Chicago mob just packed up and moved into the White House. Does anybody still trust these people to run a health care system?

crankyoldlady on May 28, 2014 at 11:14 AM

This should come as no surprise. The government/democrat party IS a criminal syndicate.

SteveThomas on May 28, 2014 at 11:14 AM

You can go a lot further with a smile and a Domestic Security Force than you can with just a smile.

Bishop on May 28, 2014 at 11:17 AM

So you are wrong, this administration, also you may take note that the man who made the video is still in prison…

right2bright on May 28, 2014 at 11:06 AM

Let’s all try to be accurate when we post. Otherwise, we’re just like the liberals in throwing out BS.

In August 2013, the man that made the “Benghazi video”, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, was released from prison (he plead guilty to a probation violation) to serve his remaining sentence in a halfway house, and then to be on probation for the next four years. On September 26, 2013, Nakoula was released from the halfway house.

The imprisonment was a sham, but he isn’t still in prison.

GAlpha10 on May 28, 2014 at 11:22 AM

Problem is most of the vets are white…now if they were mostly black just imagine what Rev. Al and Jesse Jackson would be doing…

albill on May 28, 2014 at 11:55 AM

So far I have heard only about investigations into the results of this scandal, and not into the proximate cause. That seems to be the VA’s executive performance evaluation system and standards, which is something Shinseki is, or should be, directly accountable for. It seems the VA has 19th/early 20th century performance standards. How many widgets did you produce this week, how many patients did your center see this week, with pay and bonuses tied to those numbers. Not something more modern like perhaps ‘what was accomplished to improve care and service to patients’. The current VA goals of numbers each reporting period would appear to be unattainable, thus it was only rationale for the executives self interest, albeit horrendous, for the number fixing that is going on.

mjzman on May 28, 2014 at 12:01 PM

Give the Veterans the same healthcare options the crooks in DC have.

Put them all on the spot, the charlatans.

Schadenfreude on May 28, 2014 at 12:16 PM

Internal Investigation:
Q. Are you doing anything wrong, illegal, or criminal in this department that effects the lives of our citizens?
A. No
Q. Oh, thats good to know. Let me write that down.
A. Any other questions?
Q. No, I think that covers everything.
Investigators Written Comment: Another department with a clean bill of health.

leader4hru on May 28, 2014 at 12:35 PM

One of the fundamental problems of the massive and metastasizing federal bureaucracy is defective institutional design. No bureaucracy should control the measurement of metrics used to evaluate its own performance. One of the most corrupt chapters of the Obama presidency is his intimidation and abuse of Inspectors General, the only tools available to deal with institutional misfeasance and malfeasance.

We need complete reform of the institutional structures of the federal bureaucracy, and much stronger powers and protections from political influence for IGs.

novaculus on May 28, 2014 at 2:20 PM

Yes, the fox guarding the henhouse is always an effective strategy /

Really need an independent third party audit.

lineholder on May 28, 2014 at 2:21 PM

Obama’s minions investigating themselves? Yeah right. The only way to effect change is to embarrass this administration. We need millions of vets front and center in front of the White house demanding resignations. Be loud and proud.

HotAirian on May 28, 2014 at 10:12 AM

Resignations?

They killed people for money. We already know this much. We know how they did it, we know who the victims are, we know the motive, method, and opportunity.

Why have I STILL not heard of a single state DA filing criminal charges? Why has not one person been marched off to jail in handcuffs? It can’t possibly be for lack of evidence.

So why? Until this question is answered, none of the rest matters. Until this question is answered, the govt can do anything they want to anyone they want any time they want. I dare anyone to deny this.

runawayyyy on May 28, 2014 at 3:30 PM

I haven’t read the entire thread and hope I’m not being redundant, but anyone who has worked for any length of time in any bureaucracy (local, state, Federal)knows that the entrenched hierarchy is, and has always been, in control and knows from years of experience how to work the system to their advantage. Civil Service protections not only protect the moral, but the immoral. It’s the price we pay for our Republic. The Fathers new and told us that to keep our Republic, we had to have a moral electorate which keeps a never blinking eye on their elected officials. We are no longer of the level of morality they envisioned and hoped for. Heretofore, the Fourth Estate has been the ‘eye’ of the people. No more. We’re all on our own, now, which has always been the desire of Power mongers, of any stripe. Divide across any and all lines as can be defined by the times and manipulated by unscrupulous political opportunists. The Internet helps, but, garbage in, garbage out. If an extant crisis can’t be exploited, create one. If one cannot be manipulated to advantage, minimize it. If it can’t be minimized, use any and all ploys to attack, personally, those who seek the truth. Don’t git me stahtid. I need another beer..

vnvet on May 28, 2014 at 5:08 PM