VETERANS AFFAIRS IS BROKEN
In just the past year, we've learned about at least 21 preventable deaths of military veterans at VA facilities across the nation as well as the spread of infectious diseases at these hospitals and clinics.
In addition, there is evidence of bonuses awarded to executives at troubled VA hospitals and a lengthy ongoing disability claims backlog.
Meanwhile, frustrated lawmakers hold hearings on VA shortcomings, adopt new rules in hopes of turning the VA around, and even create websites highlighting VA's many problems -- to no avail.
VETERANS AFFAIRS MEET CONGRESSIONAL REQUESTS FOR INFORMATION WITH INDIFFERENCE AND DEFIANCE
Relations between the agency and Congress have deteriorated in recent months, with many lawmakers voicing displeasure over VA's unwillingness to release reports and statistics about the agency's performance.
Congress has more than 111 pending requests to VA for answers on such things as questionable spending practices, performance standards for mental health care and the breach of VA’s computer network, some more than a year old, says one high-ranking Congressional staffer who asked for anonymity because he works closely with VA. But these queries have been met largely with indifference and even defiance.
SUB-STANDARD CONDITIONS AT VA FACILITIES MAKE PATIENTS SICKER
Beyond the many deadly medical errors at VA facilities, unhealthy sanitary conditions are another scourge. For example, in St. Louis, more than 1,800 patients at the VA hospital may have been exposed to HIV and hepatitis in 2010 as a result of contaminated dental equipment, according to a posting on HVAC’s accountability website. A separate report on the Website claims that for nearly 18 years unsanitary practices at the Dayton VA Medical Center potentially exposed hundreds of patients to hepatitis B and hepatitis C.
DISABILITY CLAIMS UNACCEPTABLE BACKLOG
APPEAL CLAIMS ARE WAY UP AND TAKING LONGER TO BE HEARD
But what has gone unnoticed is that the number of claims that are being appealed because the veteran disagrees with VA’s decision or argues that the VA gave the wrong disability rating is up: According to VA, 266,179 appealed claims are pending, compared to 182,000 in 2010. President Obama and VA Secretary Eric Shinseki have promised to eliminate the disability claims gridlock by 2015.
“Veterans are waiting five years or more,” for appeals claims to be heard, said Joe Moore, a partner at Bergmann & Moore, a law firm managed by former VA litigators that specializes in disability appeals. “No veteran should ever face stacks of medical bills, eviction, or other problems because VA let the veteran’s disability claim appeal gather dust for five years.”
MORE LAWS WILL SIMPLY BE IGNORED BY VETERANS AFFAIRS - A "ROGUE AGENCY"
Thomas Bandzul, a legislative attorney for the nonprofit Veterans and Military Families for Progress, views VA as a rogue agency with few constraints and no one inside or outside of VA to compel the department to improve.
“If a law is passed that calls for changes, it has to be enforced, and there is no enforcement within the VA system,” Bandzul said. “Necessary laws are either not implemented or ignored until the courts force the VA to comply with the law. But even the courts have extremely limited jurisdiction. Simply put, there¹s no policeman on the block to make VA behave.”
Read more - http://www.ibtimes.com/va-broken-death-medical-mistreatment-claims-backlogs-neglect-veterans-affairs-hospitals-clinics
MEDIA INVESTIGATES CASES OF VA MALPRACTICE -
TAXPAYERS PAY COSTLY SETTLEMENTS
According to Government databases, last year alone, VA malpractice claims were up almost 30 percent from 72 million in 2011. Since 2003 the VA has settled or lost more than 4,400 malpractice cases. The payout and cost to taxpayers is over $844 million.
Read more - http://www.ktvu.com/news/news/local/2-investigates-va-malpractice-suits-shorting-calif/nbpyd/