VA Optometry

Behind closed doors, Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin, MD, suggested his VA healthcare directors get rid of optometry and audiology services.

What is the background of this proposed change?

Shulkin’s team is coming up with new ways VA can shrink while still providing veterans with timely access to healthcare either at VA or in the community. The savings from not providing optometry and audiology services, but instead farming those out to Community Care, could then be used to update struggling VA facilities.

At least, that is the argument put forth by the Secretary and his team last week.

Using this gimmick, VACO is basically encouraging directors to commit budgetary misallocations by using Choice, when VA should not, to cover optometry and audiology appointments. Then, those directors are also being told to use the money earmarked for optometry to cover facility repairs even though the cost savings will be mooting by the higher price charged in the private market.

One director shocked by the Secretary’s suggestion reached out to me last week to provide direct quotes and other information about the conference held in Leesburg, Virginia.

VA was contacted about the quote a week ago but did not provide comment before publication today.

‘LensCrafters On Every Corner’

In a closed-door meeting with his VA healthcare directors from across the nation, Shulkin suggested VA should stop providing veterans with audiology and optometry appointment.

This surprised many in attendance because audiology and optometry services are two of the most requested and most economical for VA to provided.

According to the insider:

[Secretary Shulkin] told directors in Leesburg VA today that we should get rid of audiology and optometry since there are “LensCrafters on every corner”. As I said there are our most popular veteran requested service and we do it economically. Veterans receive state of the art hearing aids that cost $5000 in the private sector. VA gets them for substantially less.  If you send patients to private audiologist you would loose all control what quality device they get. You’ve never heard a veteran complain about the quality of their eating aids. 

Shulkin Works Around Congress

The insider indicated Shulkin is forcing directors to play a game of hide the pea while failing to seek approval from Congress for the proposal and not giving directors enough funds to adequately repair older facilities.

In a given year, some facilities may get $30 million for their operating budget when they really need $200 million to operate and repair dangerous environmental or operations hazards.

This forces directors like our insider to choose between fixing boilers used to sterilize surgical equipment or making repairs to prevent Legionella.

The longer I cover VA scandals, the more apparent the issue is becoming concerning veteran safety. Directors are forced to choose between the lesser of two evils all the time when it comes to safety.

And, whenever we hear a scandal, that is a case when the director guessed wrong.

Basically, the inside baseball looks more like VA Central Office (VACO) calling the shots without really being taken to task. Those calls by VACO are then passed through the VISN, these are the networks responsible for many hospitals and community-based clinics.

According to the insider, the Washington DC VA Hospital that recently made headlines for horrible processing of supplies needed to provide care for veterans was a victim of VACO incompetence. Someone in VACO picked a bad vendor, and the local hospital director was caught trying to make up the difference.

Now, we see one of Shulkin’s solutions to create cost savings for his new boss, President Donald Trump. To meet the requirements of the White House mandate to shrink each agency, massive cuts will need to be made.

But how can these cuts happen while the spotlight is shining on VA after Trump promised such grandiose solutions? Easy, the cuts all occur behind the scenes.

91 COMMENTS

  1. “Lens Crafters” doesn’t do what I need for my eye problems.
    Does Lens Crafters have opthalmologists on duty? If NOT, then I’m screwed!

    • I just googled “LensCrafters” in my county.
      The nearest one to me is over 30 miles away!
      I guess having “…one on every corner…..”, as “Shithead Shulkin” says, is pure unadulterated BULLSHIT!

      I’m also NOT sure if they have opthalmologists on duty. Which is, due to a service connected disability, what I need!

      Here’s some questions——-
      What if VA doesn’t pay the bill on time? Will I be screwed by having my credit rating be lowered?
      Will they turn over the unpaid bill to a collection agency as has happened to many veterans, over using outside medical facilities?
      Will that collection agency harass me?
      Will I have to retain an attorney?
      Will I be able to sue the civilian company for what VA might do (not paying the bills)?

      Last question: Why is “Shithead Shulkin” wanting to close down optometry and audiology in VHA’s, when he’s receiving $182 BILLION taxpayers monies for this half fiscal year? Especially when it’s the most monies ever in the history of VA!?!?!?!

      To this I say, under my “1st Amendment Rights of FREE SPEECH!”

      “FUCK YOU VA!”

      • @Crazy elf- The VA Rule “As A Crow Flies” only applies to Lenscrafter locations within same 40 mile radius but the crow must be minimally 70% blind and of course, able to fly with Lenscrafter lenses (crow collective sponsorship)

      • You’re nailing the wrong villain, @Crazy Elf. Trump’s your enemy, and needs to go.

      • Why? Because they are easy targets for Shulkin and there will be no public uproar.

        The public, those not completely engrossed watching Oprah will think it’s a great thing that vets can quickly go down the street for glasses or hearing aides once their overfunded PR machine spins it.

        Why not fire those interior designers?

        The silver lining in this Crazy Elf is that if you did go to an outside opthamalogist, you might get proper care.

      • And fuck you krause. YOU recommended trump………..the village idiot!

        Eye have optic nerve damage from military serve and MUST have an ophthalmologist. Big bucks for one of those and that may be the asholes’ target for extinction at the va.

      • Yeah, that thieving old gag would have been so much better for us.

        She let 4 guys die in an event that got world wide attention and then lied repeatedly about it. Do you really think she would give a shit about your eyes?

      • @DV,
        Do you think you would have been better off with Hillary “The Butcher of Benghazi” Clinton?
        This B/S by Shulkin was being done “behind closed doors” in a “private meeting”!

        I too am being screwed over by “Shithead Shulkin” and whoever else was present at that meeting.

        I’m on two prescription meds for my eyes. Right now I’m waiting to see if I’ll need surgery!
        Of course I don’t want anyone at VA to do the surgery. I’d rather go to a REPUTABLE opthalmologist for it!
        As far as I’m concerned, the VHA’s in my area aren’t qualified to take out the trash!
        That’s my opinion!

      • Good article, Ben.

        @DV – – – Trump is FAR, FAR Better than the alternative would have been. Interesting how legions were willing to give POTUS Obama a “Free Pass” for a while on the mess that he inherited – – – yet those same folks are NOT willing to do the same for POTUS Trump.

        Cutting Audiology and Optometry services to veterans is NOT the answer. Getting veterans the healthcare they were promised and need is. How do we do that?

        It is fairly simple.

        FIX THE DAMN BROKEN VA:

        1. Expedite implementing the HOLMAN RULE.

        2. Recognize the problems inherent in the VA are SYSTEM-WIDE, not just limited to a few locations.

        3. Fire all the Lazy No Good Workers. Fire EVERY single AFGE/SES Employee.

        4. Sell off all the VA facilities. Alternatively, they may be converted into housing for homeless veterans.

        5. Issue all veterans a card that allows them to choose their own doctors within their community that they can TRUST.

        6. The United States Government will PAY those doctors promptly for the care they provide veterans.

        7. Completely ELIMINATE the “Federal Protection” Umbrella for incompetent QUACKS that the VA sends to other states to practice other than their own. Gonna practice in Hawaii? You need to be LICENSED in Hawaii. Same applies to all other states.

        Veterans were promised, have earned, and deserve no less.

  2. Let me explain how back assward this idea is for cutting costs in terms of how a private sector business is run.

    In private industry there are good times and bad. VA is running up against bad times budget wise. Private industry also has to choose the way they will stay in business. They can choose to cut services to customers, or not. They can choose to raise prices, or not. They can decide to expand to different markets, or not. They can choose to cut expenses like wages paid, or not.

    Only one of those plans has EVER kept ANY business viable, yet it is the one thing that seems forever off the table at VA. Why is that? Either VA cuts expenses, 30% across the board wage and benefit cut, or its all just faeiry dust up wazoo. The only way to put a dent into billions of wasted dollars is to begin making billion dollar sized decisions. You could gold plate the hearing aids and hand deliver them to each and every vet in America and the expense of it would not amount to a drop in the ocean compared to the green America craps out to those who labor under the VA banner.

    The plan is a complete smokescreen. If expense is to be cut then cut the damn expenses and spare America the lame ass effort at pointing the ax at veteran benefits!

    • Why not eliminate at least half of the full time union thugs first?

      I cannot fathom a doctor with supposedly years of training in his chosen profession choosing instead to do union work full time.

      Eliminate any full time union work by anyone above GS11, and get rid of at least half of them.

      Or hell, get rid of every one of them. The AFGE likely rips off enough dues from every employee every paycheck, use some of that stash to hire their own representatives rather than paying the donut bill for Little Cox.

  3. Email David Shulkin directly and tell him what you think at David.Shulkin at va.gov. All the top VA brass have at va.gov email addressees.

    Eliminating optometry and audiology services within VA is just plain stupid and PR nonsense.

    • Emailing ANY cabinet level official has only a vert slight statistical chance of being acted upon over and above what any ordinary letter sent by First Class Mail to the North Pole. Santa maintains an address there, sure, but this is only for appearances sake. Just like VA.

      …and the Vets all went back to their beds, with dreams of sugar plums dancing in their heads….

      • My sugar plumbs dancing look suspiciously like a engorged VA Purple Team dancing. Night Terrors really suck.

  4. I’m about twenty miles from the nearest Lens Crafters. It’s not on a corner. I see an ophthalmologist, Lens Crafters doesn’t. There’s no transparency anywhere in our Government. Especially the VA. Come to think of it, I can’t remember the word being said by any of our leaders since they got in office. God Bless the Veterans and their families.

  5. It’s really no wonder at all that the VA would not think twice and eliminate eye and hearing care.
    Why?
    Because they all have their heads so far up their asses they cannot see nor hear anything but their insatiable desire for receiving more for ever doing even less.

    Why is it anyone on State Medicaid/Welfare, and that includes political refugees here in USA can have full dental, eye, and ear and everything else…even completely free if income is within limits, but we Veterans are constantly having either our benefits cut, farmed-out, sold, mismanaged, and we’re all supposed to continue saying…Thankyou, may we have another screwing?

    Again, wait for it…just how many VA SES’ers own stock is Lenscrafters?

    I’m smelling revolution level angst…but organizing minions of Veterans would be like herding cats…we are that varied. It’s really time to start a 30 odd day countdown of TIME IS UP Trump. Or something along that train of thought. The Trojan Horse is stuffed full of AFGE Thugs and VSO Puppet Piggies running this circus…time for change, but cats really are hard to herd. 🙂

  6. Being service connected for tinnitus and hearing where would a veteran go for that service connected condition? Is the VA going to pay for that when the condition worsens? Will I get stuck with a bill from lenscrafters and possibly seeing my credit ruined because VA is slow paying or not paying at all? Hell, maybe Shulkin is planning to build solar paneled parking lots with that money he’ll save at the expense of vets and he can put on a tin foil hat and wear it while standing in line at Disney world. I just read where Obummer did cocaine and once considered having a “gay fling”. I just knew there was something funny about that guy! Just another day at Disney world.

    • As one Dennis to another let me answer your question; when the VA shoves a vet into Choice program without meeting congressional Choice program requirements (as Roseburg did with me to rid me from them) the VA will not pay. As a matter of fact, the Choice program fiasco has now been shoved upon so many and so many vets have been starnded by VA with enormous unpaid bills, that VA had to create a brand new office JUST to assist vets with attempting to repair bad credit from unpaid medical bills that the godamn VA shoved onto the shoulders of vets! THEN THEY OFFER TO HELP AGAIN by helping to partly fix the damage they caused!!!

      • What comes next is the VA hack office hired to help fix the damaged credit from VA not paying their bills because of Choice, is the VA hack then acquires that Vet’s social security and bank routing number and the rest comes in form of once the Veteran makes a police report of identity theft, then the VA will again “help” by canning the Vet with a VA appointed fiduciary to screw them even more until day they die.

        The never ending circle jerk. Not to be confused with the never ending gobstopper, although both can occur in same instance, RAND concurs that VA circle jerks and never ending gobstoppers are easily confused.

      • One way they are going to pay the debt, is off of the veterans backs. # times in the last 10 years, i receive a letter from VA comp saying i have been overpaid and they are going to have to reduce my pay. The last time they did this they claimed a VA Form had never been signed when I retired in 1996. Being the pack-rat i am, I searched my files and found the form, and – Holy Crap Batman – it was signed by both my wife and I!!. I sent a copy to the VA with the required pages of explanation, and a copy to my Representative, who sits on the Armed Forces Commission. Three weeks later, my reply came back, So sorry this was our mistake, however we feel that an overpayment may have been made. WHAT??!!! Then they proceeded to to take all but my 40% disability payment. 60% of my pay was lost for one year, and my Rep. said nothing!!! I had to sell stocks, Bonds, have yard sales and even borrowed money from my father-in-law. Then again this last month – Bingo – my turn again! We need to get organized and March on DC and DEMAND our rights!!! For too long we have sat by and let the VA and DC dictate to us where we went, where some of us died, others disabled, and then told we had to WAIT for care and now – to pay for it!!! When is it going to STOP!

  7. In this modern day age we live in, we enjoy many forms of. communications We have come a long way from the days the Indians used Smoke Signals and Tom Toms. Western Union used the Telegraph. With each generation, new forms of communications have been invented. We can talk on a telephone to anyone in the world. We get instantaneous Video of events around the world as they happen. President Trump recently talked with the crew on board the NASA Space Lab as it orbited the world at an unbelievable speed. At the same time, we were watching the crew on our Televisions. Ronald Reagan, was known as the great Communicator. We have access to any person or organization through the medium of the Internet. Normally, communications is a two way flow of information. Through our computers, we have access to finding out information on any subject that you can think of. I was an Instructor at the Radio Telegraph Operators Course at the 2nd Marine Division Communications School in Camp Lejeune, NC. I have deep appreciation of Communications. Having said all of this, I am having a very hard time trying to understand, why the President would announce that a Veterans Hot Line is now in place at the White House. He had this communications link established to enable us Veterans a vehicle to share with him, details of problems that we have encountered in our dealings with the VA. The first enquiries by Veterans to the White House Switchboard, were re-directed to send emails. I, like many other Veterans, have submitted multiple emails addressing many subjects. During HIs campaign, Mr. Trump repeatedly made the statement that. “We (He) are going to take care of our Veterans”. To my knowledge, to this date, not one email sent to the Veterans Hot Line has been answered. I sent letters to the President via Registered Mail, Receipt Requested. I have never received a signed dated receipt. In Radio Communications, systems were developed to block incoming and outgoing message by Jamming or Scrambling the signals. What we have with the Veterans Hot Line, is a failure to communicate. The system either has not been activated or turned on, or if it is activated, no one at the White House has been assigned the position of caretaker or monitor, to tend to the in-flow of thousands of emails. During his speech at the Rally in Pennsylvania, many placards in the audience read, “Promises Made, Promises Fulfilled”. The campaign promise to take care of our Veterans has yet to be fulfilled. At this point, we are at a Mexican Stand Off. We veterans in good faith, moved out and utilized the new Veterans Line. President Trump, the White House and the have chosen to be non-responsive. I even contacted several Newspapers, the White House Press Corps and other media, asking the question, “Why have none of you asked, what is the current status of the Veterans Hot Line. I an totally shocked at the number of Deaf Mutes that are in the business of Communicating. To all who read this, please feel free to forward to any and all who you think can get the President’s attention. Semper Fi and Hoo Rah!

    • Unfortunately the only kind of communication talking in DC is money, and we veterans are not included on that channel.

      In fact, our channel is a dead hum on the line.

      As for the media, we will only be noticed when they run out of Russian boogeyman to go after. And illegal alien boogeyman. And refugee boogeyman. And Obamacare boogeyman.

      And after the Kardashians finally die from silicone poisoning.

      • @91Veteran–Yep, I just gurgled coffee from uncontained laughter. But I think it would be more like the silicone getting poisoned by the Kardashian host ass.

  8. Veterans are proud. I was. A lifetime of the VA has wounded my pride immensely. Not a good feeling. I admit to having hope, again. I’m not sure just how many times the VA is going to let me down. Until, I fight back. Thankfully, Trump has seen to it that guns can be bought at most flea markets. I agree that disabled Veterans in a herd, would be like herding cats. At least we would be going somewhere. I have no clue as who is to blame. Someone is to blame. Remember, if Veterans go against Trump, Trump will be against Veterans. If you don’t like him, he doesn’t like you. He’s a narcissistic bully. Shulkin strokes him, and he purrs.

    • The question of “who” is to blame is simple to answer but you might not like the truth;
      We The People are to blame, and We The People are the solution.

      In order to form a more perfect union, to establish peace and domestic tranquility, ordained and established a Constitution. We The People have allowed the same kind of thugs and misfits bastardize that sacred document that the founders of our country fled from, because the fleas come with the dog and government is the biggest dog their is.

      We The People have accepted business as usual at the most corrupt agency America has ever known, and we have allowed our fellow citizens, veterans of service, to be manhandled, bullied, harrassed, maimed, and even to be killed through incompetance. We The People have let a brotherhood establish itself inside of our house of government called a union who we no longer have direct control over. Even our elected officials in the Constitutional Republic no longer control these folks directly because that process takes place not by a vote, but over a union negotiation table.

      We no longer have any means spelled out within the Constitution to fullfill the PRIME reason that our founding fathers established Numero Uno of our Bill Of Rights – the First Ammendments promises that we have a right to assemble and speak about what we wish but that is not the TRUE power of it – the true power is in the oft unquoted portion; to demand a redress of grievances.

      Since union thugery took hold our elected representatives can no longer be held accountable because they simply cannot redress grievances held against a union. So the very first right granted in the Bill Of Rights no longer applies and the result history has witnessed proves out the wisdom of including that right IN THE FIRST PLACE!

      The union is illegal in my opinion simply because it absolutely has the result within government of completely short circuiting civil rights without any form of Constituional redress. Now that we know the horrific impact on people, I say the lesson has been learned.

      The VA has become so corrupt that Shulkin routinely speaks about routing money not belonging to him to other causes that it was not allocated for. His arrogance and hubris are typical of those folks that simply have no formal means to hold them Constitutionally accountable. So instead of fixing the Constitional problem the answers put forth so far are to create more and more and more agency positions to attempt to act as a watchdog – but NOBODY sees the obvious implication there either; what stops any new office, also not accountable to The People, from being corrupted themselves?

      History shows us absolutely nothing stops them. Gee, I guess the First Ammendment had a good reason after all?

      • @Dennis,
        The first three words in today’s blog is, quote: “Behind closed doors…”!
        That’s the problem. All of “Shithead Shulkin’s” bullshit is being accomplished “behind closed doors!”
        The union, “Shithead Shulkin, the VSO’s, a couple of veterans (who are probably hand picked by the VSO’s) and a couple of SES’rs are behind everything being done at all VA’s nationwide.

        Now, what would be their underlying motive for cutting back on certain VBA and VHA employees?
        In my opinion – “MONEY!” And lots of it!
        This new budget, passed recently, gives the VA $182 BILLION of taxpayers monies to VA. The budget which was passed late last year, was, I thought, to last until 31 September 2017! The end of the 2016-17 fiscal year! Evidently that was NOT the case.
        Now, this new allocation is supposed to last until the end of September.
        How many want to bet, the VA will be back in front of Congress – before the beginning of August 2017, (begging) asking for MORE taxpayers monies?
        There’s an old saying – “follow the money!”
        How many want to bet, before long, we will hear about some VA upper management being caught with their hands in the cookie jar?!?!

        Wait for it! As namnibor says quite often!!!!!

  9. Today’s “Bad VA Art” of Benjamin’s is not an eye Dr. at all…that’s one of the VA’s experimental Borg patient advocates. “Resistance is futile…”

  10. I dunno Ben. Cuts behind the scenes? If Trump gave the order for agencies to downsize, I can’t believe it is Trump or his WH micromanaging who is deciding where in the agency that will happen.

    More of this makes sense though now that you mention that downsize order.

    It explains why Shulkin would go after the least staffed clinics in a hospital. How many people work in an audio clinic? How many people work in the optometry clinic?

    Getting rid of both allows Shulkin to claim he downsized. It doesn’t matter what. I’m sure he also thought, “what’s the least urgent care in a hospital?” I bet he thinks that vets have dealt with poor eyesight or hearing for some time, so why not a little longer while they wait on getting care from the outside?

    I guess those vets needing more than hearing aides or cheap glasses are SOL.

    I agree it’s a misallocation of funding. We’ve been told the Choice program is for those who have to drive over 40 miles or cannot get care within 30 days. We were not told other kinds of care could be paid for when he arbitrarily decides to add those types of care on a whim.

    Why not decide the same for neurology? Why not send TBI vets to outside clinics with much more experience with TBI such as those used by pro sports teams?

    I also think he is misallocating his budget if he uses salary and benefits for building repair, unless the VA budget process is so sloppy that there are not rules against it.

    I cannot believe Congress says, “here’s $182 billion. Spend it however you want”?

    I suspect every agency has to submit a budget request based on need, with line items for salary, benefits, medical supplies and buildings or facilities.

    Its interesting to see the VA, even with a budget increase, looking for savings to put towards building maintenance. Why not allocate some of that larger funding towards maintenance that has been deferred for years because previous budgets were mismanaged?

    How many hospital maintenance problems could have been fixed if directors were not forced to eat a solar panel shit sandwich over the past several years?

    This scheming by Shulkin reminds me of Al Gores reinventing government. Claim the number of Full Time Equivalent employees are being reduced, while ignoring those same employees coming back to work as contractors and at a higher cost.

      • I’m sure they will try squeeze any concession possible.

        And when that doesn’t work, ignore those members that are laid off.

        But they will likely get an agreement that those members eliminated get first dibs on jobs elsewhere.

        Which means, the incompetent that are used to being shuffled around after screwing up will jump at the chance to move elsewhere.

    • Less expense from maintenance, Hearing and Eye care, the more money to increase salaries for unions and Sr Executives who want quarter million dollar moving expense authorizations.

  11. For anyone who has a disparaging word about President Trump. Might I remind y’all, “NO ONE WANTED THE SECRETARY OF VA JOB!”

    The ones who would have “made a difference” said “NO!” And, they said it loud and clear!
    That being said, we veterans got an “government asswipe lacky insider” to that position, aka: “SHITHEAD SHULKIN!”
    Now all we have is healthcare that will be worse! Unless we do something about it!
    Only, what “IT” is, no one knows. Like namnibor said, very nicely, getting veterans together – would be like “herding cats!”

    Again, that’s my opinion under my “1st Amendment Constitutional Rights!”
    Lastly, and again;
    “FUCK OFF VA!”

  12. Well this is one case where I am a little pissed. My eyes and hearing are both service connected. I require hearing aids, and because of VA surgery, I have to use 3 different eye drops. There is no way any contractor or private doctor would provide me the same services. What really gets me is there is a better solution to the issue than is being talked about. These bastards are looking for ways to save money but it is always on the back of the Veterans who need and have earned the services. So politically correct or not, I’m going to say it …. The VA needs to start doing what it was created to do and that is to take care of the disabled veteran!.. Congress created this mess and congress can fix this mess. There are 8 categories of Veterans who are eligible to get VA care. What needs to happen is that the only veterans who gets care is the disabled veteran, and those soldiers returning that have not yet been rated… sorry guys the VA was not created to treat every swing dick just because they served 3 years in the service. Even those of us that retired from service are paying for medical care in one way or another., its about time that those that are not disabled or are not retired veterans to find another place to get care…. The fact is and has always been the VA does not treat veterans based don the category they fall into, no they treat all veterans the same, the first request who asks for the appointment gets the appointment and those that are disabled have to wait for the next appointment… sorry Charley … but something has to give, and it damn sure should not be those of us that are disabled and rated…. Now its time to let our congress critters know how we feel.

    • That is exactly why some VAs where a lot of retirees live, like Florida, are overwhelmed.

      And also exactly why congress will never fix it. Those retirees have nothing better to do but show up and vote.

      You can thank Clinton for leaving that flaming bag of shit on the WH door step just before he left office.

      • 911 Veteran,

        you can’t blame this on the retiree ( if your referring to military retirees). We are only trying to get the care we were promised. I vote, and I think it is so much easier not to vote than it is to vote. Just this week I voted in a local election, only three names were on the ballet for two different positions but as a veteran for me voting is the right thing to do no matter what motivates a veteran to vote they should vote. I for one could think of a number of things I would have rather done than to wait in a line to vote.

      • Rick B, you are right and I should have been more clear.

        I mean retirees who retired from whatever but had a 2-4 year service hitch years ago, not military retirees.

        Military retirees were promised health care and we see how that has turned out.

        I am speaking of those described in a news article long ago when Clinton first opened the door to Cat 8 vets just before leaving office, with no funding provided for their care.

        Several months after Bush was in office, there was talk about rolling that back because it was overwhelming the system, exactly as intended by Clinton. Many in the media happily attacked Bush for that, while ignoring what Clinton did and the lack of funding.

        In that article, it described 2 or 3 vets that had all served service terms stateside. Years later when they retired and had more serious health problems, they had civilian doctors provide the care, but went to the VA to have their prescriptions filled. One guy was on some kind of heart medicine, and as a Cat 8 vet going to the VA, he saved several hundred per month by having the VA fill his prescription. But it still required him to see a VA doctor first. This guy was bitching about the time it took to see the doctor just to get his prescription filled.

        Today, it’s not just Democrats looking to screw vets, it’s Republicans as well when we see what is going on with the Obamacare repeal bill and other cuts, while at the same time these same bastards are subsidizing cheap labor for their Chamber of Commerce donors when they give illegal aliens whatever they need…including health care.

      • 91Veteran,
        Here’s something a lot of people don’t know about the VHA’s and veterans healthcare here in Florida.
        When a vet comes to Florida, and is a “Snow Bird”, the monies spent on him/her is allocated back to the state VHA the vet is from!

        Thereby draining resources, ($$$$), FROM Florida’s VHA’s TO the VHA’s the vets use more often!

        This was one of the issues Gov. Scott brought up when he “TRIED” to enter a few of the VHA hospitals a couple of years ago!

        (That’s one reason why Florida could be earmarked for possible closures!)

  13. I’m thankful for my eyeglasses the VA provides for me and there optometrist would test my eyesight. I rather use the out side optometrist that’s been testing my and my family’s eyes for years . He never ever made a wrong diagnoses in the eye prescription of any of us . and I’m not saying the V A would either. My insurance pays 100 percent for one exam per year per family member weather it’s for glasses or contacts or both . It pays some on contacts themselves but not a lot, but will not pay anything on eyeglasses. I can’t wear contacts and my prescription calls for some high dollar eye glass lens technology. Due to this technology the lenses are composed of somewhat a form of heavy weight materials , I don’t mean thick as the bottom of old coke bottles use to be . These lenses required strong supported frames with great eyeglass frame temple hardware and strong bridge across the top . The V A was the only people to carry such frames and they looked great. The V A carried these for many years , well the V A brought Outsiders in to run the eyeglass department. I ask the outsiders if they were a civilian source specifically hired to take over and run and provide eyewear. There answer was yes and they were chosen by bid. I no longer seen the frames I’ve always picked out but rather much thinner weaker frames that took there place .I asked if they could order them showing them my old frames , I was told no because they were no longer allowed by the V A . Well I went with the thinner replacement ones ,they favored the same old frames somewhat but somewhat cheaply made , hey they were free so I told myself to be thankful for what I could get . I told myself that and finally convinced myself of it because I’m old and not rough or spry as I once was and less chance of causing damage to my eyewear. My glasses came in the mail in two weeks instead of the once normal six to eight weeks. I thought to myself, hey this isn’t bad at all I wasn’t expecting my glasses this fast. I put on the glasses and could see much better, than I ran some almost hot water over the temple parts that has a cover on it that goes over you ears . The frame and temples were made from metal so with a slight easy adjustment bend and I mean slight then …..SNAP……THAT…..&&$?,..:/&””……. BROKE. Thats when ME AND MYSELF JUMPED ALL OVER I AND SAID …..SEE WE TRYED TO WARN YOU THAT YOU WERE GETTING SCREWED. I’m sure glad that ear protection cover is on the temple for that’s what’s holding it together. The next time I’m at the V A Hospital I’ll go show the eyeglass department my situation. The next time I get a new prescription I’ll find better frames elsewhere . I’ll just pay for my on lenses as well. That’s what the V A wishes I would do even though I am 60 percent service connected disabled and mostly have to use a power wheelchair. I try to use civilian healthcare as much as possible because I do have health insurance and pay for it . I try not to tie up the V A system with my problems so that my time can go to other Veterans in need . The V A makes so many things worse by trying to make it better but simple things like eyeglass frames ,I said frames not lenses. Lenses aren’t so simple. Give us better durable frames not less durable ones. Bring back the ones you once had and leave well enough be. If it’s not broke don’t try to fix it. Simplicity many times makes for a well running machine that requires good trained normal routine preventive maintenance but requires less parts and lesser cost to operate. It handles production increases quite well also. There ways are many times proven to work best and many times reverted back to when newer more expensive methods have faulterd. My LOOONG TWO CENTS WORTH. Robert. DAV

  14. Wait a second. Just hold on a second. If I kept going to the VA for eye care, I would be blind today. I won’t go into many details, but I will say after several years of their care, I went to a private Opthamologist. In fact the VA was doing more harm to my eyesight. So, no thank you, I will spend my Medicare deductible and co-pays when it comes to my eyes until I have a true choice.

    Besides, if I wanted VA care, I would have to travel 70 miles for it, as the CBOC doesn’t offer the service. Although I wouldn’t use LensCrafters, there are dozens of quality Optometrists and Opthomologists closer than 70 miles. Do you want your eyes operated on by a resident (yea I know they are supervised) but one slip, is an oh shit moment you may never recover from.

  15. I propose the ultimate Choice program;

    A vet simply uses his SSDI number (ssn number plus part A,B, or whatever) but specifies part V for vet. SSDI applies SSDI standards to either approve or disapprove treatment and vet reserves all appeal rights like other Americans. This way, the only one a vet can blame is themselves for not finding a good doc. We fail because we put others in charge of our healthcare. We make the vet responsible for selecting the right care and not some dipshit PHD type in Washington DC.

    If enough vets remain loyal to VSOs then they have the American Right to fund the VSOs who can build hospitals and hire doctors and provide for their brothers – nothing will prevent that except reality, but still if they want business as usual then they can pay for it. If the AFGE folks are really so special at helping America, then they doubtless will have their mailboxes stuffed with job offers from all over! Vets will be throwing cash at them like ticker tape if they do indeed make life better.

    Instead the federal government rains the ticker tape down upon the AFGE and they return the favor with a boot up America’s ass.

    • The one problem with this Dennis is that using SSDI ( Medicare) allows Medicare to decide which care to pay for and which to deny. For example, I just received a Medicare explanation of benefits, and they denied a procedure because they call the procedure an experimental procedure, ( experimental my ass its been around for years) any way if Medicare won’t pay for it, tricare follows suit, and by the way VA choice is the same way they only pay what is allowed under Medicare rules. In my 19 years of being on Medicare this is the first time that they denied payment to the provider. Lucky for me it was only a $50.00. While I think you idea is a sound idea, they would have to change the rules to make sure that all charges would be paid before this could work for veterans. While it is true the VA does limit some care and medications because of cost, they just don’t advertise it as widely as Medicare, and veterans are not charged for items that the VA doesn’t allow at the VA because those procedures never get done. Also, any insurance we might buy would have limitations, so regardless, if an insurance company will not pay for a procedure, most facilities will not purchase the items needed to conduct such procedures…..So again we as veterans still will not get the care we feel we deserve.

      • @Rick B,

        Agreed that Medicare has its own set of problems. I am on Medicare myself despite a glorious physique for a man in my condition (huh?). I have had six figure procedures denied by Medicare as they quibbled with VA over who was gonna pay for putting my Humpty Dumpty ass back together!

        But you know the fleas just come with the dog don’t they? The problem for me at SSDI was fixed by a hospital social worker in about 25 minutes here my home. This was done through the normal appeal process available over the phone. I could have appealled to VA through a completely different process. This would have taken perhaps years (typ).

        So there are two completely different processes involved for the same end – health care. How many overlap are really hard to tell when you toss in insurance that is also involved! I am certain that an army of folks are employed for SSA medical claims like I did to help folks, and at least as many helping the VA claims for vets.

        Why have two armies under two seperate commands to achieve the exact same objective – serving the individual? I am simply choosing the army that seems best to serve our country when I assert Medicare is the better route. VA is too mired down in beauracracy layered over union contracts and has become incapable of efficiency.

  16. As an optician having worked in the private sector, I have many issues with this. First & foremost that this will NOT reduce wait times bc there are no opthalmologists on staff. In my small town, there is a waitlist to see one. Hold on to your hats guys, bc you are not going to believe what I am about to say….
    My rheumatologist is VERY concerned about her patients’ eye health, as many of the meds she prescribes have eye related side effects. She and I agree that our VA are able to provide comparable and SOMETIMES superior eyecare as the private sector. Reason being that both ODs & MDs are staffed in the same clinic with current up-to-date testing equipment. This is probably the very best department. They also have in recent years been recruiting some VERY good docs in that department. Our rheumatologist does spend time with the new ODs educating them on how her meds effect their patients and they now automatically retinal scan anyone one Plaquenil for over a certain amount of years, as it can rarely cause Macular Degeneration. I have worked with ODs in the private sector that have told me that’s so rare it’s not worth testing for.

    Private sector ODs and opticians as a rule are not built to handle complex patients like Vets. They want to go to work, earn their commissions and go home. There is probably one optician at a Lens Crafters that can competently handle properly fitting a patient with a slab-off or high prism. You just don’t see that a lot in private practice. Vets are more likely to have special issues bc if all the things we have been exposed to and the side effects of the meds we take as a result.

    Now, as for the dispensary, all of that is contracted out by private companies. Whoever gives the lowest price wins, no matter what garbage frames we are given. As I have said before, the opticians do NOT have to be licensed as it is Federal property. From what I have seen at my VA, the products are not worth having unless you pay to upgrade. They TELL you to take your glasses to Wal-Mart to get them adjusted. Excuse me, you got paid for them. Service them. The Wal-Mart I worked at started turning people away bc the free frames from the VA were such poor quality we did not want the liability of replacing them when they break. I personally choose to pay out of pocket for glasses. Hubby gets a free pair to use when he doesn’t want his good glasses ruined. They never hold an adjustment properly. It irks me to no end that a VA contractor expects Wal-Mart to bear the cost of labor to service their product. I had a patient tell me one time that the VA contractor refused to do an adjustment “bc I am too backed up with patients getting new glasses.”

  17. Here’s the follow-up on the “American Legion”, let’s keep VA the way it is – “Town Hall” – in Washington DC.

    From: “Military.com/Daily News”
    dated: 4 May 2017
    Titled;

    “Vets Air Grievances to Acting Director of Flagship VA Medical Center”

    “military.com” | by Richard Sisk

    Basically, two groups: one group likes the care they receive! The other group doesn’t like the care they receive!
    The “acting director even gave out his phone number to some of the veterans who have grievances!
    The last paragraph, says three VA employees might be cut loose! They have 30 days to submit their reasons why they shouldn’t be cut loose! That’s by union rules! (paraphrasing)!

    • Crazy Elf, that sounds exactly like the scripted dog and pony show they had here, right down to that sympathy grabbing tidbit about the director giving out his phone number.

      If these reporters were effective, they would follow up with those vets in a month or two so those vets can tell them the director never bothered returning a call.

    • Yep, and as soon as any Veteran calls that number given-out, am expecting those poor Veterans were placed on very top of the Disruptive Behavior Committee’s heap on their special list to torment and further isolate from the VA and cause their “problem Veterans” to either just give-up and stay away or future kindling right outside the gates for none to see or hear about in the news.
      They are not even any good at disguising their own horse and pony shows…where the sugar cubes are likely laced with not-so-groovy medicine that could kill more than a horse or pony or two…

  18. this is off topic but if you have time and it is long. but well worth a watch on a shitty rainy day….
    “The Biggest Game InTown about the Government CAFR wealth shell game
    CAFR1″….on u tube

  19. …yeah, looks like we Vets get stuffed in both ends from Trump’s bs.

    “http://taskandpurpose.com/congress-veterans-ahca-trumpcare/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=tp-today&utm_content=image”

    • LP,

      Good catch, on a must read article… just goes to show you once again the Congress really doesn’t give a darn about veterans, as they are all about mouth service ( yea they suck) but never about providing actual service that veterans really need. But to be fair veterans will not unite as one block either, and if we did I suspect Congress would be treating us with more respect.

  20. This is beginning to be an apples and oranges discussion: apples being, let’s say, VA facilities offering excellent care, and oranges the ones dispensing lousy care. Mine is an apple. In 19 years I’ve never had cause to complain–and have experienced everything from annual physicals to major surgery. This is the Vermont Medical Center, by the way. But it’s beginning to sound as though the oranges might take the apples down with them. In any case, we have a Trump-driven privatization takeover in front of us, and can’t let that happen. Everybody will lose, and change for the better for the “apples” among us will never happen.

    • I have a brother that still lives in Vermont… and he tells me that the VA there sucks really bad… So it comes down too what kind of treatment is needed and who needs it.. I tend to believe my brother not so much because he is my brother, but because I too have experienced some terrible providers at a number of VA Medical Centers.

    • @Robert Wilson, @Rick B – – – VAMC White River Junction, VT has lower rating compared to the average rating of VA Medical Centers-Hospitals. Thanks, Nutter

    • Robert, I don’t disagree that there are some good hospitals out there.

      The problem is mismanagement at the hospital level and above results in many more bad hospitals than good, and the good hospitals being lumped in with the bad.

      Keeping the status quo as so many want to do, including the American Legion with their little PR campaigns does nothing but consign veterans to having to deal with bad hospitals and bad care.

      As long as so many veterans are lied to, treated badly if they are treated at all, have blatant medical problems missed or ignored and malpractice resulting in injury or death, then significant change is needed.

      I don’t feel one bit bad for the good hospitals out there. The VA as a whole brought this on themselves, with congress helping by ignoring the deterioration.

      Just because one veteran is getting good care at their hospital shouldn’t mean 10 others are ignored, injured or killed at theirs.

  21. It seems to me that Shulkin needs some cognitive prodding…

    Dr. Shulkin, you claim that the massive computer power at Department Of Energy can be used to simulate intelligent thought (artificial intelligence). You further claim that VA is capable of making use of the data that the DOE computer simulation can produce.

    Dr. Shulkin, has it ever occured to you that the very same computers you intend to use are also capable of far greater simulations? After all, those computers can easily simulate phase transitions that occur at the quantum level of the whole matter/energy transition thing known as a nuclear reaction. Pretty complex and LOTS of marshmallow toasting potential, right? (I see from photos that you like marshmallows)

    Dr. Shulkin, why haven’t you instead proposed to use those computers to simulate the overall health benefit from known and available statistics (like vet med records, and research data, and VA mortality numbers), in the simulated event of turning their care over completely to the private sector? The simulation could very easily predict the expenditures and thusly could interpolate either cost savings or cost increases for America’s taxpayer and could easily predict the best model of termination of VA healthcare services in a transition to private sector paid by Social Security.

    With the data in hand from the simulations. could we not truly discover if America is (by the numbers) doing the best that we can for veterans, and if not then wouldn’t the data in hand be a sort of roadmap to that end?

    Sir, why don’t you just “float” the idea in the media similar to the flotation devices you have deployed this week? Just float this idea out there…see if artificial intelligence can reveal to you something that your own intelligence cannot?

    P.S. Can you please arrange to have my patient record flag removed? Thank you in advance. See ya around the campfire.

    • Those floatation devices deployed are either really large-form Baby Ruth bars or marshmallows contain much more fiber than we first thought.

  22. [email protected]

    took 7 pairs of glasses and examinations as well as a letter to my State Rep to come up with one pair that would work

  23. I too will admit that the VA does not provide quality made glasses. I will also state that the venders at the VA charge too much ( in many cases) for add on items. I can go to Wal-Mart, purchase the cheapest glasses and still have better glasses than what the VA gives. But, because I require special lens, and they must be tinted
    ( thanks to VA screw up on my surgery) because light bothers my left eye. Also damn va glasses always have a problem of turning green after a while. When they offered glasses every year that was not much of a problem, but now they won’t give new glasses for two years and they turn green just after the first year in my experience. So while I can get better eye-wear outside of the VA, I do get better eye care because of my special needs.

  24. @Rick B
    I’d like to talk with your brother. I’d guess he’d be way in the minority. I’ve talked with dozens of vets at White River Junction (VT) over the years, with nothing but positive reviews. Docs and other providers there (mostly vets)–at least in my experience–like working there as well. A great partnership exists between the VA Center and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Hospital, the private facility across the river in New Hampshire. They freely exchange surgeries and other functions, depending on respective needs and schedules for specialists in various areas.

  25. To All – – – Want to find and compare the ratings of VA Medical Centers? – – – Go and visit this website; ‘http://va-hospitals.healthgrove.com’ – – – Nutter

      • @Rick b – – – Rick, how about contacting the owner of the website, and then ask them how they came up with their ratings, and if they are in any way related to the VA? Post if you find anything. I found that the VA’s official website is extremely biased. Like you, I don’t trust the VA as far as I can toss a hand held fart. I’m still practicing though, and I’ll post when I’ve had an accomplishment. – – – Thanks, Nutter

    • @Namnibor – – – Nam, who are you referring too? I think that I have missed something. – – – Nutter

      • It’s probably just my acquired allergies to bullshit anytime I hear someone come on here and their repeated mantra is everything is farting rainbows out the unicorn’s ass at their VA so all must be okay…reminds me of living rather close and downwind from a large pig farm.
        Then again, my allergies really have come with a vengeance last few years…but I was allergic to bullshit way before that… 🙂

    • @Namnibor – – – I see what you’re talking about. I missed it. That’s what lack of sleep, being bloated, then the effects of flatulence; while ripping silent burners that singe your next door neighbor’s nose hairs, and visitors who ask to step outside for some fresh air.

      People post who think their VA Medical Center performs well, but others who are experts at rating hospital performance and medical deliveries say otherwise. Know what I mean? Can you hear me now? Floating posters trying to convince others that all is well within the system.

      • Floaters, indeed. Make no mistake, these are NOT Baby Ruth Bars. These are true swamp beast floaters, but equally packed full of nuts. 🙂 🙂

  26. I’d like to know what people who are fond of the VA, think about Veterans suicides, the backlog, the missing billions of dollars, the wait times for Veterans, the laws broken to cover-up whatever it is. Today’s Friday, ain’t heard no bombs dropped on us……yet.

  27. Did that Northwestern university study comparing the VA hospitals to other than VA hospitals, really find the VA hospitals to be better all around? How?

  28. Hey, namnibor,
    Yea, I got a whiff of the “Rotten Cabbage Patch” shit as well!
    Of course, I’ll not feed it!

  29. Off Topic – To All – I consider myself to be conservative, but there are some issues that I tend to lean far to the left. What I don’t like though, is when someone abuses their powers and influence. Especially when it comes to increasing one’s profit margin, when in fact, their already better off financially than others. I mean, how much monies does a person really need to live off of without seeming to be greedy?

    Ivanka Trump’s jewelry was previously mentioned during a press conference on a major tv network. Then after China’s President visited POTUS and they ate that scrumptious chocolate cake [go ahead, search for it, look at the images of this cake, it’ll make your mouth water]. A little while after these Presidents broke cake, I mean bread, Ivanka was awarded patents in China for some of her product line. Then today on CBS, it was reported that Ivanka posted a tweet about her new book.

    As far as I’m concerned, the Trump Family needs to hire a teaching constitutional product marketing consultant so that they can be instructed on what is a conflict of interest and what isn’t. How to ethically or legally product such products while a few family members hole Executive Office positions in the White House.

    I get the feeling that some of the Trump family is ignoring this illegality, and feel that they can do as they please. Let me make it clear though. I don’t agree with everyway POTUS handles or presents some matters, but I do want him to succeed as our fairly elected President. Please don’t post any slack about the popular vote, that is not how or what elects any President, and for good reason. Any disputes, please read why the Electoral College was created.

    But what I would like to see, is for POTUS to push hard to change the way the VA delivers medical care and to reform how claims are streamlined for prompt filing. Now you can post your thoughts. – – – Thanks, Nutter

  30. Trump is our President. My family has always prayed for our President. A few still do. We didn’t vote for the whole darn family. Some of his family has already gone way beyond what was acceptable. As long as Sessions is Attorney General, they will be able to do anything without fear. I guess it’s just the way it is. Other than Defense and State department’s, Trump’s picks are highly questionable. I do pray our President realizes we are people, not shareholders.

  31. If SecVA Shulkin thinks that the same high level of medical eye care provided by VA optometrists (ODs) to veterans with multiple systemic diseases who are at great risk of sight-threatening eye diseases can be provided at the local LensCrafters, then he needs to get out a little more and find out what is actually happening in his own house.

  32. For those Real Veterans on this site, a shirt you might like:

    “http://www.11bravos.com/we-that-remain/”

    No, I don’t get money for this…

  33. ANutter: I did check the VA med center ratings and see that Vermont is at 71+, or a bit under average. No mention is made as to how the ratings are calculated, other than allotting percentages to five or so categories of treatment–with few specifics, two being for wait time, where it ranks as average, and number of docs per thousand patients, where it is well above average. All I can say is, no complaints from me–nor from either patients or staff members I’ve talked with.

  34. Public Law 104-262, the Veterans Health Care Eligibility Reform Act of
    1996, changed eligibility laws to allow VHA to furnish prosthetic appliances to veterans.
    However, that law further provided that VHA could not furnish sensori-neural aids (hearing aids
    and eyeglasses) except in accordance with guidelines that the Department of Veterans Affairs
    (VA) prescribes. Subsequently, the Department published regulations (Title 38 Code of Federal
    Regulations (CFR), §17.149) in the Federal Register establishing such guidelines. In 2002,
    VHA issued Directive 2002-039 to establish uniform policy for the provision of hearing aids and
    eyeglasses.
    VHA DIRECTIVE 2008-070

  35. I’m down here at STVHCS south Texas. I’ve been coming to the VA since 2007. I have no real complaints about the VA besides it being under staffed and some Chiefs being dumbasses and not knowing what Vets really need. Besides that all the care I have received is awesome. I’m not some POG or drug seeker, or someone that complains just to complain. Here is my plan to “fix” VA. Stop seeing Veterans for non service connected disabilities. Its not the military’s/governments problem we are getting old. The VA is not your retirement plan, you should have acquired a job/career after service if you did not retire. Also, prosecute providers, vets and others who falsify claims and lie about what they did in service. I see and hear other vets trying to connect every little thing to the service. WTF? The military didn’t turn you into a whiny little bitch. The VA also needs to stop outsourcing veterans to private facilities because it costs twice as much and by the time the vet gets to see the outside provider he would have been seen by the VA. VA needs more providers, VA needs to cut waist. Further more, they can cut back on wasting providers time by charging veteran 5.00 for no shows. Its not going to break the bank but its the principle of it. Time is money and we just wasted the VA’s time. Civilian side would charge 30-50 for a no show. That’s why I don’t no show. I can’t afford it. lol

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