By CDR Thomas W. Felhofer, USNR-Ret
The VA health care system has received its share of criticism over the years, but only in this current scandal have credible allegations of "cooking the books" and falsified records been brought forward. Any such actions are not incompetence. They are criminal. Have patients died waiting for life-saving treatment? Whether or not this can be proved, it does seem that the criminal creation of false records was widespread throughout the VA.
VA Secretary Shinseki said he was "mad as hell!' President Obama said he was "madder than hell!' So is the President taking decisive action? Well, no. He is going to wait for the results of an investigation, which will be available....when?...August?
The American people have grown tired of the Administration's tolerance for incompetence and malfeasance, and the lack of accountabilty encountered if the perps are finally pinned down. Why, for example, is a high-level IRS bureaucrat who takes "The Fifth" in a Congressional hearing not dismissed the very next day?
If Obama is still truly unsure of individual high-level culpability, all he need do is to pick up the phone and demand answers. The "investigation" should last no more than half a day. Then, Shinseki gets fired, as whatever fraud uncovered happened on his watch, and he should have known about it. I have got to believe that the head of the VA gets plenty of letters complaining about whatever. Where was the follow-up? And remember, top-level bureaucrats serve at the pleasure of the President. They are gone tomorrow if the President so wishes.
Any answers? Well, a recent letter-writer pointed out that there are eight VA health care patient classifications. (If that doesn't sound like government, what does?) Let's reserve VA health care exclusively for those vets who were harmed in the course of duty, and in need of continuing treatment for those injuries. One classification. Period. That would cut the workload down to a fraction of what it is now while still fulfilling our moral obligations to our deserving veterans. And when people forge records to gain bonuses, they go to jail. This is no different than scooping up money from the till.
Decisive executive action is required when shenanigans are discovered. Not more investigations and studies.
CDR Thomas W. Felhofer, USNR-Ret