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Editor/Founder: Bill Smith, Ph.D. [aka: OzarkGuru & 2010 AFP National Blogger of the Year]
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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato (429-347 BC)

Friday, June 06, 2014

VA Scandal Deepens: "VA Chief: 18 Vets Left Off Waiting List Have Died", "Federal Investigators Probe Alleged VA Retaliation Against 37 Whistleblowers"

Today in Washington, D.C. - June 6, 2014
The House reconvened for 3 minutes yesterday in a proforma session. It will reconvene at Noon on Monday, June 9, 2014.

The Senate is not in session today and will reconvene on Monday at 2 PM.  At 5:30 on Monday, there will be three cloture votes on district judge nominees: Hannah Lauck to be United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Virginia, Leo Sorokin to be United States District Judge for the District of Massachusetts, and Richard Boulware II to be United States District Judge for the District of Nevada.

Yesterday, the Senate voted 78-17 to confirm Sylvia Burwell to be Secretary of Health and Human Services.

The more Americans learn about the crisis at the VA the worse the problems appear to be.

According to the AP, “An additional 18 veterans in the Phoenix area whose names were kept off an official electronic Veterans Affairs appointment list have died, the agency's acting secretary said Thursday — the latest revelation in a growing scandal over long patient waits for care and falsified records covering up the delays at VA hospitals and clinics nationwide. Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson said he does not know whether the 18 new deaths were related to long waiting times for appointments but said they were in addition to the 17 reported last month by the VA's inspector general. . . . The investigation also found broad and deep-seated problems with delays in patient care and manipulation of waiting lists throughout the sprawling VA health care system, which provides medical care to about 9 million veterans and family members. Richard Griffin, the VA's acting inspector general, told a Senate committee three weeks ago that his investigators had found 17 deaths among veterans awaiting appointments in Phoenix.”

>USA Today adds, “Investigators have determined that more than 100,000 veterans nationwide were kept off waiting lists for medical appointments, and Acting Veterans Affairs Secretary Sloan Gibson said the nation will learn Monday how many patients were relegated to ‘secret lists.’ During a news conference Thursday at the Carl T. Hayden Medical Center in Phoenix, where the VA medical scandal erupted, Gibson also disclosed that at least 18 Arizona veterans died while awaiting doctor appointments, though it remains unclear whether the delayed care is to blame for those fatalities. . . . Gibson said if any of the 18 deaths is found to have been tied to delays or bogus wait-time stats that the agency will disclose that and discipline the responsible employees.”

Meanwhile, other investigators are digging into the lack of transparency and problems for whistleblowers within the VA. The Washington Post reports, “Federal investigators are examining claims that the Department of Veterans Affairs retaliated against 37 whistleblowers, including workers who tried to report actions relating to the agency’s recent scheduling scandal. The complaints include allegations that managers demoted, suspended and lowered the performance ratings of employees who tried to expose inappropriate record-keeping practices at VA hospitals, according to the Office of Special Counsel, a federal investigative and prosecutorial agency that protects federal employees from reprisals. Claims of retaliation against whistleblowers have arisen at 28 VA locations in 18 states and Puerto Rico, OSC said. ‘The frequency with which VA employees are filing these complaints is one of the highest levels in the federal government,’ said OSC spokesman Nick Schwellenbach. The complaints involve VA facilities in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wyoming, the OSC said.”

And according to CNN, “Employees of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, from all across the country, told us people who speak out face retaliation that could end their careers and permanently harm their family's finances and futures. Today, the Office of Special Counsel announced details from VA whistleblower cases illustrating just how true that fear at the VA has become. . . . The OSC said it has received the complaints from employees at VA facilities in 19 states. And the complaints run the gamut -- from allegations of retaliation for disclosing improper scheduling practices to retaliation for exposing other threats to patient care. . . . In the just the past fiscal year, the Office of Special Counsel has fought the punishment of 14 VA employees who had been retaliated against for being critical of the agency. . . . Last fall, six doctors in Columbia, South Carolina and Augusta, Georgia, came forward to describe to CNN how delayed colonoscopies and endoscopies had led to the death of as many as 20 veterans. None would appear on camera. None would even allow us to quote them. But they begged CNN to tell the story. . . .  Several of the doctors, we were told, had tried to tell administrators of their concerns that patients were being harmed by delays and that some had died or suffered serious injuries. But we were told those doctors were treated harshly by administrators who did not want to hear of the complaints. All the doctors confirmed to us that VA officials had posted warnings in the hospital's halls and elevators that no VA employees could speak with the media or divulge details of what went on inside the hospital. The warnings, the doctors said, included details about laws that could be violated and penalties that employees could face, including financial reparations and even jail time, if they were to speak out publicly, and if the hospital suffered financial losses as a result.”

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell recently said, “The denial of care to our veterans is a national disgrace. And the scandal only seems to increase in scope by the day. . . . This scandal appears to be a failure of a huge magnitude, and the people we represent are demanding he rise to the challenge. Our veterans are counting on him to work with both parties to get to the truth, and to pursue solutions that can make things better. . . . We all remember how engaged the President was when flopped. He didn’t just send a staffer out to Phoenix. He didn’t just give a Secretary a stern talking to. He didn't just say he wouldn’t stand for it. He pulled out all the stops. He made it his number one priority to get that website running – even if it’s still not done. And what I’m saying is, the President should put more effort into helping our veterans than his attempt to fix a website. Only he can work with us to get to the truth. Our veterans deserve it. They deserve answers. They deserve accountability. They deserve solutions.”

Tags: VA Scandal, continues, Sylvia Burwell, confirmed, Secretary of Health and Human Services To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Posted by Bill Smith at 1:57 PM - Post Link


Anonymous Teresa Saldivar said...

No need for death panels, we have waiting lists. Isn't government insurance great? So much better than those pesky insurance companies. NOT!

Anonymous David Ricker said...

This is not doing a poor job this is a felony. Who will be held accountable?


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