Acting VA Head: We need $17 billion to stop mistreating veterans

posted at 10:01 pm on July 16, 2014 by Mary Katharine Ham

In which the agency that’s been giving millions in bonuses to people for causing and lying about the untimely deaths of veterans asks for the GDPs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Anguilla, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Equatorial Guinea combined from taxpayers to stop doing that. Super:

The Department of Veterans Affairs needs $17.6 billion in additional funds over the next three years to meet patients’ needs and fix the troubled agency’s problems, its acting director said Wednesday.

Testifying for the first time on Capitol Hill, interim VA Secretary Sloan Gibson told the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee that the money would help VA medical centers decrease appointment waiting times and hire more doctors.

You perhaps won’t be surprised to find this request is a-ok with Democrats while Republicans wonder how more money is going to solve this problem when the increasing backlog and problems at the Veterans Administration correlated with a rapidly increasing budget. And, in the case of the aforementioned bonuses, more money actually caused the problems.

This almost $18 billion would come in addition to what’s in current reform packages already:

But the request divided lawmakers. Democrats, including Sen. Jon Tester of Montana, supported the appeal, while Republicans, including Sen. Mike Johanns of Nebraska, questioned whether VA care would improve if it received additional funding.

“This sounds so similar to what we’ve heard over the years,” Johanns said, adding that the committee had routinely met previous VA requests for additional funding.

“If you can’t clean up your act, then guess what? You lose out,” he said. “I don’t think you need more billions and billions of dollars.”
lRelated VA disability claims, and costs, rising sharply

Gibson said the VA would use the $17.6 billion to hire 10,000 new clinical staff members, including 1,500 doctors. It would allocate $6 billion for infrastructure improvements, including building eight new medical facilities and leasing 77 more around the country.

The VA is not some orphaned, reviled agency that gets no funding. You can more convincingly make that argument about the IRS. It’s at least a little reviled and doesn’t have every lawmaker on the Hill jumping to give it cash, though it has more than enough to waste and none of this is any excuse to reward it for bad behavior. But the VA is perhaps the government’s No. 1 altar for bipartisan genuflection. Up until now, pretty much every person on the Hill has been happy to throw money at it, and very few are interested in policing how that money is used. The political warm fuzzies come from handing out other people’s cash and pretending it means you’ve helped people. There are far fewer warm fuzzies in making sure that actually happens. You can’t deny any funding to the VA. How heartless! Get off the VA’s back about how they’re spending money. How cold!

It’s at least arguable that the confluence of political unassailability, buckets and buckets of money, and bipartisan eagerness to dole it out without too much follow-up may have actually contributed to the toxic environment at the VA. Adding more of it doesn’t seem like the best answer unless the agency has gone a long way toward proving they can change the culture of the agency, not just its personnel and buildings.

In the meantime, just for context. The almost $18 billion we’re talking about here is about 2 and a half times the amount spent on the entire 2012 election, which liberals decry as an astronomical amount and an unconscionable stain on our process. It’s the amount at which Uber was valued in its public offering, which many called insane, despite its being an actual successful company with global aspirations that actually serves people a superior product. And, it’s slightly more than it would take you to buy all of the NBA. All its franchises.

The VA should have to prove itself on the road to redemption before it sees a penny more than what it’s already wasted on rewarding employees for letting veterans die.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

We need to dismantle the VA and transfer the funds directly to those who served those they can find their own care providers.

NotCoach on July 16, 2014 at 10:06 PM

Taxpayer to interim director: Bite me…fix it first then we’ll talk.

crosshugger on July 16, 2014 at 10:06 PM

Acting VA Head: We need $17 billion to stop mistreating veterans destroy all the evidence like Lyin’ Lois and Hustler Holder

viking01 on July 16, 2014 at 10:07 PM

That is certainly a large opening salvo…

Khun Joe on July 16, 2014 at 10:07 PM

YGBSM

FU and the horse you rode in on.

Dingbat63 on July 16, 2014 at 10:07 PM

Acting VA Head: We need $17 billion to stop mistreating veterans

…so $16 billion can go in ‘Contracts’ to JugEars friends!

JugEarsButtHurt on July 16, 2014 at 10:08 PM

Not another nickel. Disband the VA and give the veterans the same health care plan that congress gets. Pretty simple, really.

bimmcorp on July 16, 2014 at 10:08 PM

#ShutDownTheVA

faraway on July 16, 2014 at 10:08 PM

We need to dismantle the VA and transfer the funds directly to those who served, those so they can find their own care providers.

NotCoach on July 16, 2014 at 10:06 PM

.
A Y E . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

All those who are opposed to NotCoach‘s measure, say “nay” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (I triple-dog dare ya’)

listens2glenn on July 16, 2014 at 10:10 PM

“Getting rid of those ‘death panels’ is gonna cost ya…”

ladyingray on July 16, 2014 at 10:12 PM

Not another nickel. Disband the VA and give the veterans the same health care plan that congress gets. Pretty simple, really.

bimmcorp on July 16, 2014 at 10:08 PM

.
You know what ? … That would work, too … : )

listens2glenn on July 16, 2014 at 10:12 PM

Not another nickel. Disband the VA and give the veterans the same health care plan that congress gets. Pretty simple, really.

bimmcorp on July 16, 2014 at 10:08 PM

Hear!Hear!

thatsafactjack on July 16, 2014 at 10:12 PM

This government has become nothing but scam artists, flimflam men and snake oil salesmen.

Flange on July 16, 2014 at 10:13 PM

Aye……….. Vets find their own providers.

31giddyup on July 16, 2014 at 10:14 PM

The ruling class, with its supporting bureaucrats, just don’t get it.

GaltBlvnAtty on July 16, 2014 at 10:15 PM

In the meantime, just for context. The almost $18 billion we’re talking about here is about 2 and a half times the amount spent on the entire 2012 election, which liberals decry as an astronomical amount and an unconscionable stain on our process. It’s the amount at which Uber was valued in its public offering, which many called insane, despite its being an actual successful company with global aspirations that actually serves people a superior product. And, it’s slightly more than it would take you to buy all of the NBA. All its franchises.

.
My uncle who died in the mid-70′s from cancer (WWII vet) asked his doctor when his wife raised the question of moving him to a VA hospital right after he was told his lung cancer was inoperable and terminal,

“How much quicker to I have to die to avoid going to hell before I die?”

One of my earliest mentors had a stroke playing two groups behind my foursome during our weekly league. He spent 10 years in a vegetative state in a VA hospital before he died. His daughter, who was off leading her own life when I knew him, later ended up working for me as chance would have it. She told me,

“I went to visit him every week because I believe in God and they say people in coma’s know if you are there. I eventually found comfort in his coma because he wasn’t aware of how bad the facility was for the patients.”

This agency was founded by Abraham Lincoln who would spit in disgust at the pork barrel for bureaucrats it has turned into in the last 140 years.

They want $ 17 billion – take that much out of the salaries and bonuses paid to ALL government executives (including everyone who qualifies as such in Congress) so they KNOW what it feels like to be completely unappreciated

… and see how long it takes to reform this shameful abuse of our veterans.

PolAgnostic on July 16, 2014 at 10:16 PM

Just unplug the damn thing.

- General Berringer, WarGames

aunursa on July 16, 2014 at 10:17 PM

The ruling class, with its supporting bureaucrats, just don’t get it. give a shit!

GaltBlvnAtty on July 16, 2014 at 10:15 PM

.
FIFM

PolAgnostic on July 16, 2014 at 10:18 PM

No. Dismantle the Congressional healthcare plan and give them the same care the vets get from the VA.

Bishop on July 16, 2014 at 10:18 PM

NotCoach on July 16, 2014 at 10:06 PM

Yep.

Bmore on July 16, 2014 at 10:19 PM

Send the money to the states and let them find ways to make sure that Vets have access to care.

If they can get a better deal contracting with private health care providers than they would through the VA, then give states the right to do that.

Get creative with it! Focus on front-line employees who actually work with patients. Get rid of the “fat” at the administrative level in the VA. Lose some of those ugly alliances that caused this fiasco in the first place.

lineholder on July 16, 2014 at 10:19 PM

It would allocate $6 billion for infrastructure improvements, including building eight new medical facilities and leasing 77 more around the country.

About two years ago the VA shut down out-patient Vet Centers around the nation. They provided routine check-ups, shots, doctors visits so vets didn’t have to go to a main hospital. I’m sure that was to save money. Now they want to hire more dr’s and build more buildings…?

It’s like a dog or cat chasing its tail. Idiots.

Patriot Vet on July 16, 2014 at 10:21 PM

They’ll get it. And it’ll all go to management. It’s a racket. The federal government is a racket.

The only chance we as a country have is the dissolution of public unions.

Or a coup.

BKeyser on July 16, 2014 at 10:23 PM

$17 billion taxpayer dollars? Are you sure it isnt $25 billion? how about $170 billion? These bums have no shame at all.

Blow it up. Vouchers for all veterans– let them go to their local hospitals, or wherever they want to go.

Sell the hospitals. Fire the VA people. End the pain forever.

MTF on July 16, 2014 at 10:25 PM

All those freaking politicians know is to throw more money at the problem. After he fires all those slimy, crooked, bastards that caused this mess then we should consider additional funds at some lesser amount. Furthermore, that idiot general they just relieved should be indicted, tried and jailed.

rplat on July 16, 2014 at 10:31 PM

There’s more to the V.A. than just health care.
There’s the

TarheelBen on July 16, 2014 at 10:35 PM

Close. It. Permanently.
Transfer veterans’ coverage to Medicare, with a subsidized secondary.
We have an EXCESS number of hospital beds in the United States.

orangemtl on July 16, 2014 at 10:36 PM

dem-mode on
When it comes to problems, they are always solved by more government spending.
dem-mode off

Wino on July 16, 2014 at 10:37 PM

The counter-offer should read, “How ’bout we just privatize the entire thing and fire/investigate each and every one of you. How ’bout that?”

Meople on July 16, 2014 at 10:38 PM

I should perform a major eff up at work, so I can get more money.

wolly4321 on July 16, 2014 at 10:38 PM

There’s more to the V.A. than just health care.
There’s the

TarheelBen on July 16, 2014 at 10:35 PM

Oops.
There’s also the V.A. death benefit section;
V.A. home loans, and on and on.
But I think the health care part, which is the largest part, should be dismantled, and let veterans go where they want to get care.
Tricare, a system mostly for retired veterans, is already set up that way. I use Tricare and I can go where I want – but I wind up paying about 15 percent of a medical bill.

TarheelBen on July 16, 2014 at 10:39 PM

Hey, dems. OK. You need more money. When I need more money, I have to submit a budget request stating EXACTLY what I’m going to do with the money; what I’m going to buy; who/what positions I’m going to hire; milestones stating whether my plans are working, etc.

Where’s your plan? What are your milestones? What is the objective? What are the problems you are going to solve? What are the metrics that will let me know if it’s working?

Instead, we get, “Just give me money. That’ll solve anything.”

Wino on July 16, 2014 at 10:39 PM

V.A. home loans…
TarheelBen on July 16, 2014 at 10:39 PM

The absolute WORST program for buying a house. Even the deadbeat FHA program beats it. What’s worse, if you default on FHA, they don’t come after you. Default on a VA, and they’re moving in to your cardboard box and drawing blood to turn in for plasma money until you’ve repaid the discrepancy.

Wino on July 16, 2014 at 10:42 PM

Well, I need about 10 dollars to buy the rope to hang you with Mr. Gibson. How’s about dem apples?

platypus on July 16, 2014 at 10:42 PM

$18 Billion. Strange. No mention of de-incentivizing taxpayer funded bonuses for patient quota spreadsheet manipulation

drivingtheview on July 16, 2014 at 10:44 PM

$17 billion taxpayer dollars? Are you sure it isnt $25 billion? how about $170 billion?

MTF on July 16, 2014 at 10:25 PM

Take a good look – you probably won’t get another chance to watch a global superpower self-destruct again in your lifetime.

EA_MAN on July 16, 2014 at 10:46 PM

Wino on July 16, 2014 at 10:42 PM

I don’t know how it is now, but I bought and sold a home through the V.A. back in 1985, and it worked out pretty well.

TarheelBen on July 16, 2014 at 10:46 PM

I should perform a major eff up at work, so I can get more money.

wolly4321 on July 16, 2014 at 10:38 PM

.
That works, if you’re employed by the Federal government.

Possibly … the state level, as well.

listens2glenn on July 16, 2014 at 10:48 PM

Shutter VA facilities, and start writing vets checks…

JohnGalt23 on July 16, 2014 at 10:50 PM

And I have no doubt if Republicans agree to the $18B, the Democrats will solve the mis-management problems later. And no more VA crisis emergency funds will ever be needed again

drivingtheview on July 16, 2014 at 10:52 PM

Shutter VA facilities, and start writing vets checks…

JohnGalt23 on July 16, 2014 at 10:50 PM

Bah, we wish. That’ll never happen since it wouldn’t further grow the bureaucratic hackery and unaccountable thugocracy that IS the Federal Fatazz, err Government.

Meople on July 16, 2014 at 10:56 PM

I don’t know how it is now, but I bought and sold a home through the V.A. back in 1985, and it worked out pretty well.

TarheelBen on July 16, 2014 at 10:46 PM

The ONLY (as in “No other”) advantage to a VA loan is you can buy without a down payment. This translates as, “You can buy when you aren’t prepared to buy.” The fees are higher, the interest rates are higher, and all other terms are worse than any other method including FHA and conventional. With FHA, you can borrow at a better rate with lower fees for as little as 3% down. If you can’t come up with 3%, you shouldn’t be buying that house at all.

Wino on July 16, 2014 at 10:57 PM

Acting VA Head: We need $17 billion to stop mistreating veterans

Thieves, liars-hypocrites and bastards.

Dr. ZhivBlago on July 16, 2014 at 11:12 PM

Send all the illegals home and treat the Veterans.

Schadenfreude on July 16, 2014 at 11:16 PM

Cut all of the veterans vouchers. Close all the VA facilities.

John the Libertarian on July 16, 2014 at 11:51 PM

Dismantle, fire them all, salt the earth where it stood, put vets on Medicare. Has to be an improvement.

waelse1 on July 16, 2014 at 11:52 PM

This country is done. I hate to be a fatalist, but we have elected our doom.

KCB on July 17, 2014 at 12:01 AM

I’m trying to figure out how I could totally screw up everything for my customers and then get them to send me a bunch of money.

But, I can’t.

I’m in the private sector.

In a somewhat related matter…

After thinking about what their targeting list is likely to be, I’ve decided to root for the Iranians to get the bomb.

trigon on July 17, 2014 at 12:11 AM

A three step program can easily solve this problem and satisfy public opinion. First abolish the VA health system. Second give the veterans access to existing non-VA systems of care. Third, slap all high level VA administrators and directing medical staff until they wet their pants. Post video on the Internet.

Mason on July 17, 2014 at 12:17 AM

Everything supposedly paid for by the government only runs further in debt. That’s why we should only allow it to assume expenses that it must pay such as national defense.

flataffect on July 17, 2014 at 12:31 AM

Yep, and King Putt needs 3.7 billion for the kids on the border. Cloward-Piven – Lean Forward!

ghostwalker1 on July 17, 2014 at 12:56 AM

Shut it down. Now.

Kenosha Kid on July 17, 2014 at 1:17 AM

This SOB should be publicly hanged immediately as a warning to others.

Adjoran on July 17, 2014 at 5:28 AM

Not another nickel. Disband the VA and give the veterans the same health care plan that congress gets. Pretty simple, really.

bimmcorp on July 16, 2014 at 10:08 PM

Wow that would be awesome. Thank you.

The VA has been getting big increases in money yet some doctors see two patients a day, some one a week while the admins do paperwork for ZeroCare™ instead of supporting veterans.

dogsoldier on July 17, 2014 at 5:41 AM

Everything supposedly paid for by the government only runs further in debt. That’s why we should only allow it to assume expenses that it must pay such as national defense.

flataffect on July 17, 2014 at 12:31 AM

Nothing can be paid for by the government. The government does not own anything. They have to steal money from us to then give it to someone else.

dogsoldier on July 17, 2014 at 5:43 AM

“You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.” – Rahm Emanuel

How perfect an example of the political mind is this? Take a total cluster-fsck of a failure, don’t bother with trouble-shooting, identification of causes, or apologies, and turn it around to allow you to ask for more money for it than ever before. Very instructive.

bofh on July 17, 2014 at 6:38 AM

Shut down the VA.

Take the funds set aside for it, divide it by the number of veterans and hand it directly to the veterans to take care of themselves.

The VFW and American Legion, along with other veteran groups would serve as the focal and organizing points for veterans to help each other and find their own way towards health care and caring for the wounded and families of the fallen. They will do a better job of this than our government ever will. And they will be held accountable to the roughest men and women on the planet who will keep their spending in line and their eyes on the MISSION.

We already extend service beyond just the service years and require even aged personnel who once served to be ready to be called up on a moment’s notice. They deserve to have the power and money to keep prepared while ‘retired’ as we now ask for a much longer, life-long commitment and don’t know how to SUPPORT THAT MISSION. We fail our veterans on so many levels, and the VA has had scandals throughout my living memory and no one does a thing about it… and this is the result.

I trust our veterans to care for each other more than I trust federal employees or contractors who both game the system and shaft our veterans. The veterans will do a much better job at this than the federal government ever can do for them. Let us put our ideas of ‘good feelings’ aside when we are presented with the horrific results of them. All our ‘good feelings’ are getting good men and women killed here at home who have risked their lives abroad.

Are we truly that awful a people to continue doing this?

ajacksonian on July 17, 2014 at 7:13 AM

Approve the money to outsource patient care to private hospitals immediately. Fire VA management and replace with a private consulting company to administrate the dismantling of the department and sale of assets.

forest on July 17, 2014 at 7:21 AM

Well, first, lets eliminate all bonuses, and conferences.

Then, lets stop putting renewable energy on VA buildings.

Fire the supervisors, managers and administrators that tolerated or ordered the hiding of records.

Then we can talk.

HBowmanMD on July 17, 2014 at 7:22 AM

How about jail time for agency leaders who committed theft by fraud by cooking the books in order to get cash bonuses?

rbj on July 17, 2014 at 7:46 AM

I am a Viet Nam era veteran- I want Congress’s plan.

AYE

Lord Whorfin on July 17, 2014 at 7:56 AM

Well, first, lets eliminate all bonuses, and conferences.

Then, lets stop putting renewable energy on VA buildings.

Fire the supervisors, managers and administrators that tolerated or ordered the hiding of records.

Then we can talk.

HBowmanMD on July 17, 2014 at 7:22 AM

Also agree with this

Lord Whorfin on July 17, 2014 at 7:57 AM

Yes let’s throw money at it. That’ll work.

dcnj on July 17, 2014 at 8:05 AM

Acting VA Head: We need $17 billion to stop mistreating veterans

The Acting VA head needs someone to give him a swirly in a Grand Central Station toilet that hasn’t been cleaned since 1925.

Physics Geek on July 17, 2014 at 8:34 AM

until the corporate culture is changed no amount of money will fix the problem. the best than can do is to close the VA and privatize it

RonK on July 17, 2014 at 9:30 AM

We could have had Bain Capital working on this problem but no, we got the community organizer in chief.

They say they can fix it for more money, but they cannot fix it unless they terminate all who foster the culture of “just showing up” and getting a paycheck. When they fire the administrators and rehire new ones who come from REAL hospitals, they might be able to start over again.

No one is entitled to work badly in a government job. The unions have to go.

Fleuries on July 17, 2014 at 9:33 AM

Just more hostage taking by the VA. Hubris reigns in the admin.

vnvet on July 17, 2014 at 9:48 AM

I’ve got my crystal ball here – let’s see.

John Boehner says that $17 Billion is too much, so the House is going to trim it to $14.1 Billion. John McCain and Chuck Schumer hold a joint press conference to complain that in reality, $34 Billion is needed, and they have a bipartisan bill to take care of our veterans and fix the VA problems.

After a great deal of wrangling that takes us into the lame duck session, the House and Senate agree to S49.9 Billion and President Obama quickly signs it into law. There, all of the problems are fixed and no one needed to be fired. The 49.9 includes adequate funding for future bonuses.
——————–

If we don’t vote these clowns out of office, 100% of GDP will go to the government.

pilsener on July 17, 2014 at 9:55 AM

WE NEED 17 BILLION TO STOP MISTREATING VETERANS

This sounds like some kind of threatening hostage situation. “If we don’t get the 17 billion (small denomination, unmarked bills) left in a hollow tree on the Coast Highway, marker 373, by noon tomorrow, the excruciating torture of veterans will continue immediately thereafter.”

Here’s how to raise 17 billion BEFORE noon tomorrow. FIRE ALL THE INCOMPETENT ADMINISTRATORS INCLUDING THE NEW DIRECTOR.

MaiDee on July 17, 2014 at 9:59 AM

To: Acting VA Head
RE: Demand for additional funds,

Dear sir,

Fire all officials receiving performance bonuses and anyone retaliating on whistleblowers and then maybe we will talk.

Sincerely,

The taxpayers.

P.S. – while you are at it why don’t you resign too.

warmairfan on July 17, 2014 at 11:18 AM

Again, as a Vendor to the VA, I can most assuredly tell you they do not need more money. They need accountability and responsibility to infect the bureaucracy. Better yet, cut the bureaucracy by 70%….

BamaXray on July 17, 2014 at 12:32 PM

Dems should use the DoEducation as an example of adding money to a federal department to improve results.

BobMbx on July 17, 2014 at 2:06 PM