My decision to become a whistle-blower after 24 years as a physician in a Veterans Affairs hospital was, at first, an easy one. I knew about patients who were dying while waiting for appointments on the V.A.’s secret schedules, and I couldn’t stay silent.
But there was no response to the two letters I sent to the Veterans Affairs inspector general, one in late October 2013 and one in early February. Going public would damage an institution I gave more than two decades of my life to, trying to make a better place for veterans to get their care. But I had to be able to sleep at night…
The inspector general for Veterans Affairs has opened an investigation, and after meeting with members of his team in Phoenix, I have faith in the job that they are doing. But I have very little in the internal V.A. inspection that Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki is conducting through the Veterans Integrated Service Network, the umbrella structure created when the V.A. radically decentralized its health care operations in 1995…
Any scandal that befalls the V.A. necessarily lands on the party that is in the White House. As this is an election year, we can expect that there will be significant pushback to delay and limit the discovery of negative information — which is why I expect my suggestions to be vehemently opposed by the White House and the V.A.’s upper management.
If it sounded familiar when President Obama vowed to fix the problems plaguing the Veterans Affairs medical system, that’s because it was.
The drumbeat of his response this week — defending the administration’s record, declaring his anger at the mess-ups, pledging to straighten things out — almost completely echoed Obama’s reaction to the fouled-up beginnings of his signature legislative achievement, the Affordable Care Act…
But there has to be at least a veneer of competence that can bear up against the vitriolically partisan environment of today’s politics. And the danger for Obama is that while he can claim government successes — millions of people insured who were not before Obamacare, better programs for veterans now than when he took office — what can stick in Americans’ minds is the image of one mess after another…
“It is, unfortunately, a sort of steady drip-drip-drip of not being able to run the federal government competently and efficiently,” Democratic strategist Garry South said. “None of it may be Obama’s personal fault, but as Truman said, the buck always stops at the president’s desk.”
When asked about the care provided by the VA, individuals who have previously served in the military are also noticeably more likely to have worries about the VA treating their family. 59% of veterans would not feel comfortable with members of their family being treated by the VA, compared to 49% of veterans’ relatives and 40% of people with no family history of military service.
Pelosi took a shot at Bush while saying that the scandal is a high priority for Obama. “He sees the ramifications of some seeds that were sown a long time ago, when you have two wars over a long period of time and many, many more, millions more veterans,” she told reporters during her Thursday press briefing. “And so, I know that he is upset about it.”
The Democratic leader never mentioned Bush by name, but she alluded to him early and often in the press briefing.
“Maybe when we go into war, we should be thinking about its consequences and its ramifications,” Pelosi said while discussing the scandal. “You would think that would be a given, but maybe it wasn’t. And so, we go in a war in Afghanistan, leave Afghanistan for Iraq with unfinished business in Afghanistan. Ten years later, we have all of these additional veterans. In the past five years, two million more veterans needing benefits from the VA. That’s a huge, huge increase.”
She suggested that Obamacare might hold the key to solving the problem.
“It’s a good tactical response by Ms. Pelosi because the war in Iraq was never popular, Afghanistan grew unpopular over time even though it originally was the good war … [that] everybody supported,” Drucker told “The Steve Malzberg Show” in Newsmax TV.
“If you’re a Democrat and you’re trying to explain the president’s issues here on the VA and the sort of growing scandal there, what you want to do is try and tie it to George W. Bush and his unpopular military policy.”…
Drucker believes Pelosi’s criticism may be effective.
“It’s possible and we’ve seen over the past six years that there are a lot of things that might normally have really fallen at the feet of any president that this president has been able to deflect in one manner or another,” he said.
Until now. On Wednesday, Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) told Roll Call that he was working with Sens. Tom Coburn (R., Okla.) and Richard Burr (R., N.C.) on a new reform plan. “Let’s let our veterans choose the health care that they need and want the most and not have to be bound to just going to the VA…Why wouldn’t a veteran who has served his country honorably…not be able to go to the health care provider of his or her choice?”
This is a promising development. Put simply, veterans will continue to suffer until they have the option to buy private coverage and seek private care. The premium support approach will allow the government to provide maximum subsidies to those who have suffered serious injuries in combat, and provide conventional subsidies to non-combat veterans who deserve traditional health coverage.
Republicans talk nonstop about how the Affordable Care Act is “socialized medicine.” But the real instance of medical socialism has been right in front of them all along, at the Veterans Health Administration. If the GOP can’t find the courage to enact fundamental reforms of the VA, it has no right to complain about Obamacare.
A government that fails to secure its borders is guilty of dereliction of duty. A government that fails to care for our men and women on the front lines is guilty of malpractice. A government that puts the needs of illegal aliens above U.S. veterans for political gain should be prosecuted for criminal neglect bordering on treason…
In Arizona, illegal aliens incurred health-care costs totaling an estimated $700 million in 2009.
In Phoenix, at least 40 veterans died waiting for VA hospitals and clinics to treat them, while government officials created secret waiting lists to cook the books and deceive the public about deadly treatment delays…
In Washington, big-business and open-borders lobbyists are redoubling efforts to pass another massive illegal-alien amnesty to flood the U.S. job market with low-wage labor.
Across the country, men and women in uniform returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan have higher jobless rates than the civilian population. The unemployment rate for new veterans has spiked to its worst levels, nearing 15 percent. For veterans ages 24 and under, the jobless rate is a whopping 29.1 percent, compared with 17.6 percent nationally for the age group…
America: medical and welfare welcome mat to the rest of the world, while leavings its best and bravest veterans to languish in hospital lounges, die waiting for appointments, and compete for jobs and educational opportunities against illegal border crossers, document fakers, visa violators, and deportation evaders. Shame on us.
President Obama clings to his sad little throne even more desperately than does General Shinseki. Faced with evidence of the incompetence of his administration, the president pronounced himself outraged, vowed that he would not tolerate it, would not stand for it — he in fact did everything except take responsibility for the actions of his government. The dishonesty and malpractice he vowed never to tolerate were, after all, the actions of his own administration, and the fact that they (may have) happened at some degree of separation from his own sacred person is hardly a defense. We made the head of the VA a cabinet-level position in order that the secretary might report directly to the president. The president, however, must be paying attention. President Obama was not.
It may not be fair, exactly, but one aspect of big-time leadership is that one must bear responsibility even for that which is not necessarily one’s fault. The responsibilities of the presidency did not descend upon an unsuspecting Barack Obama while he was going about his own inexplicable business in Chicago; he sought the office, twice, offering promises about what kind of a man he is, and what kind of leader — and he has failed to deliver. My friend and colleague Andrew C. McCarthy has just written the book Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment, and it isn’t quite what you’re probably expecting. (Chapter 1 bears the straightforward title: “We Don’t Have the Votes.”) Mr. McCarthy argues that there is a very strong legal case for removing the president, but that this is beside the point: Unless there is a political case, and political will, then the law is toothless, because impeachment is a political process.
Mr. McCarthy’s argument is a compelling one. Americans voted for those dead veterans, regardless of whether they understood that they were doing so, and they’d do it again. If there were a way for them to resign, it would be the honorable thing to do.
“As Commander in Chief, I believe that taking care of our veterans and their families is a sacred obligation. It’s been one of the causes of my presidency.”
“Where was the outrage during the Bush years? I’m not a defender of President Obama by any means, but this is a long-standing problem.”