VA internal audit: Wait-list fraud found at 64% of VA facilities

posted at 11:31 am on May 31, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

A new VA internal audit found wait-list fraud at almost two-thirds of all VA facilities, and that 13% of schedulers had been trained to commit fraud as part of their work. This new audit, which is separate from the Inspector General probe of the Phoenix facility, provided the final straw that forced VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to offer his resignation yesterday:

Appointments’ wait times were manipulated at more than 60 percent of the Department of Veterans Affairs health facilities investigated as part of a new internal audit.

The White House-ordered audit found that schedulers faced pressure to manipulate the system and concluded there was a “systemic lack of integrity within some Veterans Health Administration facilities.”

The audit, issued as VA Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned Friday, found that 64 percent of the 216 VA facilities reviewed had at least one instance where a veterans’ desired appointment date had been changed. The review found 13 percent of schedulers had received specific instructions to misrepresent wait times. …

The review also found that 7 percent to 8 percent of scheduling staff said they used alternatives to the VA’s electronic wait list, a practice that occurred in 62 percent of the facilities examined.

This President spent the last several years shrugging off scandals and massive incompetence — Benghazi, the ObamaCare rollout at HHS, Operation Fast & Furious at the Department of Justice, and James Clapper committing perjury in the Senate, just to name a few that resulted in zero firings at any level. This time, though, Obama had no choice, even though he had inexplicably issued two statements of confidence in Shinseki in the previous two weeks. Apparently no one at the White House had bothered to keep up with their own promises to clean up the VA from the 2008 campaign, and got blindsided by the massive corruption that Shinseki allowed to fester:

In other high-profile situations — involving Internal Revenue Service employees targeting Tea Party groups, Secret Service agents partying in foreign countries and the State Department response to the Benghazi consulate attacks in 2012 — Obama also resisted calls from political rivals and media pundits to remove top figures.

In some cases, Obama did not believe the agencies involved had made major transgressions, calling the lapses isolated and trumped up by his political rivals.

Even with Shinseki, Obama went to great lengths to defend the retired general, who had been injured after stepping on a land mine in Vietnam, calling him “ a good man . . .an outstanding soldier. . .a champion of our veterans.” And the president emphasized repeatedly that the problems at veterans hospitals preceded Obama’s tenure and that the specific recent examples of wrongdoing “did not surface to the level where Ric was aware or it or we were able to see it.”

But Shinseki was more exposed when influential Democrats began joining Republicans in calling for his ouster, something that did not happen to Sebelius. In her case, the White House and Democrats feared a nasty confirmation fight for a replacement at a time when Republicans were trying to exploit the health-care Web site problems for political gain heading into the midterm election cycle this fall.

By the time Sebelius had departed, the enrollment figures showed that the White House had surpassed its initial goals, blunting GOP criticism.

In Shinseki’s case, the problems inside the VA are far more in­trac­table and will take a lot longer to fix. The latest blow to the general came Friday morning, when Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), a former Veterans Affairs official who lost both of her legs while serving in combat in Iraq, urged Shinseki to resign.

“Our first priority should be the veterans, and at this point, whether Secretary Shinseki will stay or go is too much of a distraction,” Duckworth said. “I think he has to go. He certainly loves veterans, but it’s time for new leadership.”

Don’t bet on that being the final factor. The audit showing corruption at 64% of VA facilities on an initial and internal audit would have made Shinseki politically radioactive in any context. Shinseki had more than five years to take control of the VA, and the sheer scale of this systemic failure points directly to his incompetence at running the organization. It also points to Obama’s detachment from his own administration again, even on initiatives that Obama himself insists are high priorities for himself.

Next, Congress should insist on conducting its own audit of the VA, probably through GAO. Even with the scale of corruption at the VA registering this high on an internal audit, it’s an easy bet that it’ll be higher in an independent probe of all facilities.


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Oh, fail on my own self.. Whateves.

Key West Reader on May 31, 2014 at 6:20 PM

The VA Nomenklatura is well-versed and experienced in fooling auditors and inspectors general. These numbers represent the tip of the iceberg – probably calculated to sacrifice the minimum number of union thieves while saving the rest and their schemes.

“VA internal audit” is a freaking joke.

Adjoran on May 31, 2014 at 6:36 PM

got blindsided by the massive corruption that Shinseki allowed to fester:

Seriously! Do you honestly believe that more than a miniscule percentage of the Veterans Affairs and VA employees view what was happening as “massive corruption”

I suspect that prevailing attitudes were more like:

1) It was Standard Operating Procedure.

2) Just following the directions and guidance we were given.

3) Minor gaming of the system with no ill intent.

4) Take it up with our union representatives.

pilsener on May 31, 2014 at 7:22 PM

VA internal audit: Wait-list fraud found at 64% of VA facilities

And what does all this tell us about Obamacare? Well, break it down to bumper-sticker language and it’s:

OBAMACARE: YOUR HEALTH PLAN TO DIE FOR!

Dr. Charles G. Waugh on May 31, 2014 at 8:41 PM

Obama was right about one thing. The “wrong doing” did not occur at where it would show up to the upper management. It occurred, and still occurs at the mid-level managers and employees not only at the VA, but in pretty much every government agency.

Government workers want to get cash and awards and they will do it even if it means fudging a date, a deadline, making sure a decision is made that helps a superior, whether it is asked for or not.

It is “systemic” and the system is not the VA, it is government.

Sure, it happens in private enterprise too. But when there is something wrong in a private enterprise you can always sic the government on them. Who to you call when the wrong is the government.

As far as solutions? Beats me. Probably there is going to be a Blue Ribbon panel staffed with a bunch of politician who will come up with solutions that their staff developed.

There will certainly be Press Conferences and denunciations. Maybe they will develop a scapegoat, Shinseki being insufficient.

But the minute they try to change anything the phones will start ringing on K St as the Government Employee Unions and those with good connections call demanding that the lobbyists do something for all those dollars.

Lasting change? History tells us that any real attempt at change will be for the worse.

schmuck281 on May 31, 2014 at 11:37 PM

After I retired from the military, I went to the VA Hospital at Loma Linda, CA to “check in” and make an appointment.

To their credit, they said “1 year waiting time”, but gave me a flyer for a local “clinic” and said that the waiting time was a lot shorter… it was about 20 miles from my house…

I made an appointment and was seen in less than 60 days… routine stuff, but the system worked for me… and they were honest to me about it…

Khun Joe on June 1, 2014 at 12:38 AM

To their credit, they said “1 year waiting time”, but gave me a flyer for a local “clinic” and said that the waiting time was a lot shorter… it was about 20 miles from my house…

I made an appointment and was seen in less than 60 days… routine stuff, but the system worked for me… and they were honest to me about it…

Khun Joe on June 1, 2014 at 12:38 AM

So you’re okay with a one year wait time, since they were honest with you?

Seems like acceptance of failure to me.

Closet Optimist on June 1, 2014 at 9:53 AM

A different point of view:

rlwo2008 on June 1, 2014 at 11:20 AM

Ralph Peters has a different and more balanced point of view at http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2014/05/30/shinseki-takes-fall-for-obama-and-congress/. I can’t make the link thing work.

rlwo2008 on June 1, 2014 at 11:23 AM

Everyone needs to read through this conversation.

This is a textbook example of a hilarious Troll Takedown. Great job, RWM.

blink on May 31, 2014 at 3:33 PM

I am…reading it. Expecting the inevitable and enjoying it waaayyy tooo much.*evil grin* Started to warn the empty-headed fool, but then decided to read further.

Notice that the fool gave it up.

avagreen on June 1, 2014 at 1:41 PM

Shinseki had more than five years to take control of the VA, and the sheer scale of this systemic failure points directly to his incompetence at running the organization.

We should temper charging Shinseki with incompetence until we know the extent of involvement of the “senior Executive Service” members who really run the VA and whether even the DC staff was in on the fix and hiding the real numbers from him.

We can get to the bottom of this more quickly if criminal charges are brought against executives and even lower levels who participated in or were aware of the fraud.

Charges of Criminal fraud, conspiracy or, if patients died as a result of the crime, manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide, will get people’s attention and loosen lips.

Nomas on June 1, 2014 at 5:51 PM

Corrine Brown, congresswoman from FL, said that she’s investigated the VA hospital in her district and the administrators told her everything is just fine. Now, that is interesting, those are the same folks who told Gen. Shinseki everything was going fine. Corrine Brown is willingly taking the word of folks who have lied to their boss – she cannot fire them so they have less respect for her than they did for Shinseki.

evie1949 on June 1, 2014 at 9:49 PM

I was a clerk at VA. It was an awful job and yes, I was told to manipulate patient desired dates by my supervisor and our CBOC director.

matthew26 on June 2, 2014 at 7:52 AM

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