Surprise: After scandal fuels billions in new funding, VA wait times…increase

posted at 9:21 pm on June 22, 2015 by Guy Benson

‘Government’ is just another word for the things we choose to do together:

The number of veterans seeking health care but ending up on waiting lists of one month or more is 50 percent higher now than it was a year ago when a scandal over false records and long wait times wracked the Department of Veterans Affairs, The New York Times reported. The VA also faces a budget shortfall of nearly $3 billion, the Times reported in a story posted online ahead of its Sunday editions. The agency is considering furloughs, hiring freezes and other significant moves to reduce the gap, the newspaper reported. In the last year, the VA has increased capacity by more than 7 million patient visits per year, double what officials originally thought they needed to fix shortcomings, the Times reported. However, the newspaper added, department officials did not anticipate just how much physician workloads and demand from veterans would continue to soar. At some major veterans hospitals, demand was up by one-fifth, the paper reported.

Unexpectedly.  The Associated Press reported this spring that lengthy wait times remained a chronic problem, particularly throughout the South.  This week’s update demonstrates that the problem has gotten worse across the board. Presumably, one explanatory factor here is that, well, fewer employees at VA hospitals and clinics are systematically lying their asses off about wait times in order to safeguard their precious taxpayer-funded performance bonuses.  I wouldn’t be shocked if such malfeasance still exists within the system, but you’d think they’d at least ease up on the self-interested corruption for awhile.  So we’re probably getting a slightly more accurate picture of wait times these days, I’d guess.  But the broader explanation is simpler: Government bureaucracies aren’t good at doing big things well.  Incompetence, negligence and failure are often the rule, rather than the exception.  And when those big things entail, say, administering your personal healthcare, big problems ensue.  Many on the Left will skim the passage excerpted above and dutifully reach the default conclusion: We must increase spending.  But the VA scandal was never about insufficient funding.  No, it flourished at the intersection of gross corruption and mass-scale ineptitude.  Here’s Sean Davis writing at The Federalist last year:

Between 2000 and 2012, the VA’s budget nearly tripled, rising to $124 billion from $45 billion. Even after adjusting for medical inflation, which has grown much faster than normal consumer price inflation, the VA budget increased by 72 percent between 2000 and 2012. Over that same time, the total number of VA patients increased by 69 percent, from 3.3 million in 2000 to nearly 5.6 million in 2012. According to figures contained in the departmental appendices accompanying annual Office of Management and Budget proposals, the number of acute inpatients treated by the VA increased by only 49 percent. The VA has a whole bunch of problems, but a lack of funding ain’t one.

In chart form:

Nevertheless, Congress passed a VA reform bill last July authorizing $17 billion in new VA spending, including $10 billion in emergency funds. Roughly a year later, things are 50 percent worse.  Money does not magically solve complex problems, and government will always been a clunky, unaccountable instrument for change.  As much as conservatives tee off on Obamacare — as we should, for many, many, many reasons — the VA scandal and ongoing dysfunction is the best argument against government-run medicine we have.  Think of it: Americans across the political spectrum agree that our veterans have earned our help in this regard and therefore support this discrete form of socialized healthcare.  Politicians on both sides of the aisle have immense political incentives to make sure these men and women are cared for adequately.  Doing right by our veterans is a consensus issue, the VA is funded generously, and yet…the agency is still failing miserably — a full year after an appalling scandal shocked and angered Americans. (As a reminder, the agency has been less than forthcoming about the repercussions for those responsible for said scandal).  Many on the Left would like to expand the VA model to cover the entire country, supposedly out of “compassion.”  No thanks.


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Comments

Demolish it, replace it with vouchers stapled to an elementary school thank you card.

What in God’s name is the point of that office besides giving make-work to federal employees? It might be the most pointless branch of the federal government, and that’s saying something. Even the Department of Energy and the EPA are, fundamentally doing something (horrible!) that the private sector does not actually do.

Veterans Affairs is nothing but a filth-stained, contagious middle man.

TimesUp on June 22, 2015 at 9:28 PM

The legislation would allow veterans to see private doctors outside the VA system if they experience long wait times or live more than 40 miles from a VA facility. And it incorporates provisions from legislation introduced in the Senate by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) making it easier to fire VA officials.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2014/06/bernie-sanders-john-mccain-va-deal-107491.html#ixzz3dqQANZTd

Pathetic.

can_con on June 22, 2015 at 9:28 PM

Deliberate. Marxists in our federal bureaucracy want to demoralize our military. I do not want firings, I want prosecutions and lengthy sentences.

rbj on June 22, 2015 at 9:30 PM

Oddly, no outrage by illiberals.

Maybe the VA should hoist an old flag out front.

HumpBot Salvation on June 22, 2015 at 9:31 PM

Obama Legacy

faraway on June 22, 2015 at 9:32 PM

So why hasn’t Robert McDonald been fired?

A soap salesman who lies about his own military record is clearly as unfit as Eric Shinseki to run the VA. Shinseki (hired because he hated GWB) claimed ignorance though he lied about that. McDonald doesn’t have cover from that excuse.

IMO, the VA is too large and too bureaucratic. It needs to be broken into parts run by healthcare professionals not disgraced generals or soap salesmen.

Happy Nomad on June 22, 2015 at 9:32 PM

Obviously the problem is that the VA needs more funding.

F X Muldoon on June 22, 2015 at 9:34 PM

Great piece, Benson. Destroys the lefty narrative on bureaucracy and government spending in one fell swoop. The sad part is how these yokels on the left will only double down on their incompetence, lest they risk destroying one of their Big Lies.

Aizen on June 22, 2015 at 9:35 PM

Since the staffs were concentrating work efforts on research and implementation of new schedule and record falsification techniques, it was impossible for anyone to accurately estimate time/work requirements for actual medical care delivery.

The VA today is exactly what any reasonable person should expect when gov’t is put in control of health care.

ROCnPhilly on June 22, 2015 at 9:41 PM

Most of all Obama and these no good scum sucking pig commie Democrats hate American fighting men.

What goes around comes around.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on June 22, 2015 at 9:46 PM

This is what happens when you turn health care over to the national DMV. I’ve worked in one and the inefficiencies inherent in this system are insurmountable. Break it up or eliminate it, now.

Big Doc G on June 22, 2015 at 9:48 PM

Remove the word veteran from the headlines and they will read like those seen in most minor and major Canadian newspapers on a regular basis.

Various Canadian provincial governments make promises, set targets, throw in more money, and yet more “hallway medicine” (a lovely Canadian expression) occurs.

For example, a quick search leads me to read Saskatoon Health Region to close 20 ‘hallway medicine’ spaces.

Yeah, sure, until the next crisis.

This is our future, folks. Get used to it.

Drained Brain on June 22, 2015 at 9:48 PM

Some one check the Clinton Foundation, could be many of the VA “Democrat Appointed” bosses are sending the money to old Bill cause he has “combat fatigue” from living with Hillbeast….

APACHEWHOKNOWS on June 22, 2015 at 9:50 PM

THIS IS NOT A SCANDAL, episode 3,897.

profitsbeard on June 22, 2015 at 9:59 PM

This is what happens when you turn health care over to the national DMV. I’ve worked in one and the inefficiencies inherent in this system are insurmountable. Break it up or eliminate it, now.

Big Doc G on June 22, 2015 at 9:48 PM

I drained my brain from the Demented Dominion (H/T Mark Steyn) some time ago in part to escape socialized medicine. Like irony much?

I now fully realize how Wilmer McLean must have felt, moving his family from their home located at the Battle of Bull Run to a more peaceful place named Appomattox County, Virginia.

Drained Brain on June 22, 2015 at 10:06 PM

…gimme moar of that there govt healthcare puh-leeeeeze…

Pelosi Schmelosi on June 22, 2015 at 10:36 PM

Single Payer Now!

Bishop on June 22, 2015 at 10:38 PM

Is there anyone that believes any of this data is accurate? It may be marginally more accurate than before, but not much.

talkingpoints on June 22, 2015 at 10:56 PM

The VA should be put back in the hands of the military and taken out of the hands of Government Union Workers.
Military personnel should be working in all aspects of the VA. Get the civilians OUT!

Delsa on June 22, 2015 at 11:09 PM

big government’s track record for success is -0-.

Incompetents are hired.
Nobody is ever fired.

Why is anyone surprised? You increase the budget and all you get is more porn channel subscriptions.

MaiDee on June 22, 2015 at 11:29 PM

Well the VA must be good for someone in New York. One VA hospital spent over $54 MILLION for artificial limbs over the last two years. At least that’s what they said they spent the money on.

Only no one can find those prosthetics …or the patients who supposedly got them.

GarandFan on June 22, 2015 at 11:39 PM

The future of our healthcare is visible now in the VA and yet people are telling themselves Obamacare works.

These are our VETERANS our gubmint is doing this to and we are in line.

ghostwalker1 on June 22, 2015 at 11:44 PM

Is there anyone that believes any of this data is accurate? It may be marginally more accurate than before, but not much.

talkingpoints on June 22, 2015 at 10:56 PM

So… you have stats to disprove the Office of Management and Budget?

ghostwalker1 on June 22, 2015 at 11:45 PM

But the broader explanation is simpler: Government bureaucracies aren’t good at doing big things well. Incompetence, negligence and failure are often the rule, rather than the exception. And when those big things entail, say, administering your personal healthcare, big problems ensue. Many on the Left will skim the passage excerpted above and dutifully reach the default conclusion: We must increase spending. But the VA scandal was never about insufficient funding. No, it flourished at the intersection of gross corruption and mass-scale ineptitude.

Now that’s good writing.
And it’s true!

AesopFan on June 22, 2015 at 11:59 PM

There seems to be an inverse relationship between funding and performance.

If we actually give the government all our money, will we get absolutely no service at all?

Would this be a bad thing?

trigon on June 23, 2015 at 12:19 AM

As I said at the time, there is no reforming the VA. These people were deliberating faking numbers to earn bonuses while screwing the vets. They belong in prison or fired, every last one in the VA who is not on record as a whistleblower. Those should be found other jobs if available, but only them.

~~

So far, no one has been fired or demoted. A couple suspensions and a couple of transfers when the violations were in at least 14 regions and involving thousands of VA employees.

You can’t reform that.

Neither can you reform a system that needs EIGHT cardiologists to treat the same number of patients as ONE in private practice.

~~

Put the necessary functions like retirement or disability checks under another department, give vets vouchers for medical care, and shut it down. Period.

Adjoran on June 23, 2015 at 12:21 AM

Mistake in the story. VA spending increased 172%, not 72%.

connertown on June 23, 2015 at 2:21 AM

Maybe that’s a good thing.

Maybe now the reported wait times actually represent real wait times and aren’t a fictionalized cover up. For all we know, the real wait times now may be lower than the real wait times before.

Then again, maybe that’s just wishful thinking.

taznar on June 23, 2015 at 9:40 AM

give them a health card that let’s them go to any provider. the VA should just concentrate on the things that regular medical services would be unable to provide.

gerrym51 on June 23, 2015 at 10:00 AM

This is designed in. This is the inevitable result when dissatisfied customers cannot take their money and go elsewhere. Those whose job it is to serve the customers shift their priorities from pleasing the customers to pleasing their own chain of command.

And this is what the left thinks all healthcare should be.

GrumpyOldFart on June 23, 2015 at 10:34 AM

I wouldn’t be shocked if such malfeasance still exists within the system, but you’d think they’d at least ease up on the self-interested corruption for awhile.

Why would you think that?

A year later and not one single person has ever been held accountable for killing our veterans with neglect in order to line their own pockets.

Know what letting criminals get away with it causes? More crime.

runawayyyy on June 23, 2015 at 3:44 PM

_____ later and not one single person has ever been held accountable…

runawayyyy on June 23, 2015 at 3:44 PM

Just like the IRS. Just like the BATF. Just like the DoJ. Just like the State Dept. Just like the MMS.

See above. The customer cannot vote with his wallet. Therefore integrity carries no benefit, corruption and incompetence incur no penalty.

Whether someone is “held accountable” has nothing to do with what that someone does or did, or what they do or did have authority over. All that counts is whether they can be a useful scapegoat and make the public perception of the problem go away.

GrumpyOldFart on June 23, 2015 at 5:24 PM