A prominent VA whistleblower just reported VA created a new backlog through manipulations and secret wait lists that have not been fixed with wrongdoers going unpunished.

Prominent whistleblower Shea Wilkes sent President Donald J Trump a letter outlining ongoing wait list schemes that put veterans’ lives at risk every day. Those schemes have gone unpunished and unresolved. They have also created a new backlog.

The new backlog involves veterans waiting for non-VA care because Shreveport VA hospital, called Overton Brooks VA Medical Center, has been unable to see veterans in a timely manner. Meanwhile, Overton Brooks VA Medical Center is likewise unable to process the non-VA appointments in a timely manner.

Why The Manipulations

The reason for the untimely processing?

VA requires numerous approvals prior to approving non-VA appointments resulting in a bureaucratic strangle hold on Veterans Choice approvals despite billions of taxpayer dollars being pumped into the program.

Obstructionists working at VA who are members of the primary VA union American Federation Of Government Employees (AFGE) are known to be obstructing the process to protect union positions and their coffers from member payments.

VA Wait List Manipulations

How bad is the problem of this wait list manipulation?

According to one report:

It’s been three years since clinical social worker Shea Wilkes revealed a secret wait-list with 2,700 veterans, including 37 who died, languishing for appointments at Overton Brooks VA Medical Center in Shreveport, La. Now, he says he’s discovered a new kind of wait-list – the backlog of 2,900 waiting to see an outside doctor – and has written to President Trump pleading for help because “some will die.”

The fallout from his Sept. 17 letter has created a “s— storm up and down the VA,” Wilkes told Fox News. “The leaders at the hospital have been working non-stop trying to get the numbers down.”

In 2014, Congress created the Veterans Choice Program because the agency was unable to provide timely access to health care for millions of veterans resulting in some deaths and injuries.

Countless crimes were committed by agency staff and leadership that are yet unpunished and festering like cancer.

Impact Of Spending At Overton Brooks VA

President Trump just approved another $2.1 billion in funding to keep the program alive, but administrators at Overton Brooks VA have failed to make a dent on their wait times resulting in secret wait lists and unlawful manipulations to bolster performance numbers:

But the program has had little impact on Overton Brooks, where wait-times for non-VA appointments date back to the end of 2016. The VA requires a referral to see an outside doctor and the process is cumbersome – a request goes back and forth several times between the VA and Tri-West, the program administrator. Part of the chain requires someone to send Tri-West the veteran’s medical history and no one is assigned to that job, Wilkes said.

So patients wait.  

“No one knows what in the hell they are doing,” he said. “‘Choice’ is not really a choice. The VA generates your choice.”

Secret Wait Lists Persist

In Wilkes’ letter, he said secret wait lists and scheduling manipulations are still a problem at the agency despite confirmed veterans deaths, billions in spending, and countless unfavorable reports from the press.

According to a report:

In his letter to Trump, Wilkes wrote: “Scheduling manipulations and secret wait lists for care in the VA have not been corrected, they have simply become actual wait lists for non-VA care…Those responsible for these mistakes are not held accountable and their careers continue to progress with little or no accountability. The problems are hidden from the VA’s Washington leadership.”

Wilkes also told Trump he didn’t want to ask the VA inspector general for help because he claims he faced retaliation by that agency when he reported the first secret wait-list in 2014. The IG began a criminal investigation into Wilkes for violating HIPAA laws, but the Office of Special Counsel gave Wilkes whistle-blower protection and slammed the IG in a presidential memo for investigating a “straw man” instead of the complaints he raised.   

When Wilkes’ letter circulated back from President Trump to Overton Brooks’ management team, the whistleblower was called into a meeting. Unlike harassment Wilkes experienced in the past, management asked Wilkes how best to fix the program.

“For the first time ever, they didn’t hem and haw or try to deny it,” Wilkes said. “They went through my letter talking about how they were going to fix it. It was pretty shocking. They told me what they had done so far and what they were doing in the future.”

Wilkes believes the change in treatment has everything to do with President Trump’s creation of the new VA Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection.

Changes On The Horizon?

Personally, I have heard various reports from other whistleblowers that the Office is taking a radically divergent approach to whistleblowers by including them in discussions on how to fix problems in the agency.

This fits with modern dissent theory that supports divergent perspectives in organizations to avoid problems associated with groupthink. As an example, take the past 80 years at VA, the scandals that have emerged from it, and now you know what happens from groupthink.

Regardless of advances for whistleblowers, it has not done much for veterans waiting for non-VA health care despite billions upon billions being spent on the program. No matter what, VA insiders seem content spiking the ball on that program while veterans die.

I do have a question for our President at this point.

Mr. President, now that we are seeing headway for whistleblowers, when will the agency take action against wrongdoers harming veterans through true accountability? What is Attorney General Jeff Sessions waiting for?

It is time for criminal prosecutions against VA leaders choking out veterans’ lives through improper processing, scheming and wait list manipulations.

Why are we not doing more against these puppet masters within VA?

UPDATE:

Whistleblower Shae Wilkes reached out after reading this (we talk from time to time about what is going on) to provide me with VA’s response to his original letter. He also provided a copy of his PDF response to VA’s rebuttal below.

DOWNLOAD: Shea Wilkes Response To VA Rebuttal

VA Response To Allegations

According to a VA spokesperson:

Improving patient access to care is a priority for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). And while there are pending Care in the Community appointments for some Shreveport-area Veterans, Veterans requiring urgent care receive priority appointments.

It was reported that an Overton Brooks’ third-party administrator is not working with the facility to schedule appointments. That is simply untrue.

OBVAMC communicates with its contractor daily to overcome challenges caused by the scarcity of certain specialties in the Shreveport area as a whole.

As it relates to claims of retaliation and secret waitlists, an Office of Inspector General report found both claims unsubstantiated.

Whistleblower retaliation is not tolerated at VA. Employees who are concerned about possible retaliation should contact VA’s Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection. We have also contacted that office on behalf of the employee.

I plan to write more about this for tomorrow.

Source: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/08/28/va-has-new-wait-list-problem-backlog-to-see-outside-doctor.html

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38 Comments on "Whistleblower, ‘Manipulations And Secret Wait Lists’ Go Unfixed, Unpunished"

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namnibor

“[…Why are we not doing more against these puppet masters within VA?]”

*MANIPULATE/MANIPULATION* – “Sense of skillful handling of *objects*, as first used in 1826; extended to 1828 to handling of *persons* as well as *objects* in a skillful way. (think nonhuman test subjects…to manipulate into madness, the VA).

namnibor

Today’s article brings front and center the locality of Shreveport VA, Overton Brooks VA Medical Center. I sincerely worry about Veterans in paths of growing floods from hurricane and possible hospitalized Vets while the staff all vacated and forgot the vets…it could easily happen with these bastards. Wasn’t in at this VAMC or VISN that director was recently put on administrative duties because of scandal?

Crazy elf
Point #1.) Where’s ALL the taxpayers monies going, if NOT being used for what it was intended; ie: “Choice Program!”? Point #2.) We’ve been informed, through a “Fox News” report, dated 26 August 2017, where; “VA Facility Under Investigation for Rushed, Botched Radiology Scans” at the Marion, Ill, VHA! All under the pretense for bonuses! Point #3.) Informing congressional leaders has, for the most part, been either ignored or a waste of time! Point #4.) When it came out recently,… Read more »
91Veteran

Crazy Elf, much of the money is going to paying the salaries of those who have zero requirements to perform to any standard.

Salaries for VA hacks, Choice champions, Choice program phone banks, administrative fees charged by Tri-West and Healthnet, etc.

Nobody gives a damn about whether the program works as long as lots of cash is flowing to those entities.

It sure as hell isn’t going to pay those providers getting stiffed by this program.

Anitabreak

Yes. The money is going to John McCain’s friend at Tri-West.

Katherine Dumestre

The problem is not with the Choice program. The problem is mis-management by the Overton Brooks VA Medical Center in Shreveport.

91Veteran
You are posting the same comment at several sites I see. The problem is with both the VA as a whole, equally worthless VA management and AFGE hacks, AND the Choice program. Calling Choice for 57 days after giving them a referral number and provider name who accepted Choice, and being lied to repeatedly by Choice tells me it is a problem with Choice. The VA not providing any follow-up, and VA Choice Champions who flat out told me they… Read more »
Lem

The problem is they don’t tell you when they can’t deliver. And maintain their secret wait list to minimize choice payments.

cj
These wait list have been going on all along, Veterans have been dying because of them. Also correct the VAOIG is in the business of retaliation and cover ups, and not oversight. Also true this is all being hidden from DC, These damn crooks will do anything, including murder for hire, to protect at all cost, their corrupt, illegal criminal enterprise, and behavior. Time for justice, time for middle and upper management to be put in prison for good, time… Read more »
James Gallegos

Cj, on the 💰 ! It’s become a racket ! From OIG to VA don’t worry be happy, we got your back !

The mob are children compair to the va and their friend’s in the OIG and who knows who else !

If this would have happened at any civilian hospital, those in charge would have been arrested and charged with the deaths !

Dina Padilla
Murders do occur in private hospitals, some outright becausee the cae is left to students and some due to “complicattions”, usually becauwse of being exposed to deadly infections, because it’s not cost effective to disenfect. A murder of an employee here in Sacramento CA IN 1994. tHE FBI did nothing. protecting the hmo, kaiser because it is a federal contractor. I beleive now it was the hmo’s own “security guards, Wathctel” Sorry for the typos, my PC is not letting… Read more »
Anitabreak

Yes. The VAOIG is part of the problem. The OIG should be a separate entity and not within the VA. You do not ask the fox to guard your hen house. The OIG is the fox.

Donald Avant

In the 50s, scientists were experimenting with rats and mazes. they would put the rats into the maze and then change the maze as the rats were trying figure it out. It eventually drove the rats crazy. Sound familiar? Seems the VA has taken a lesson from that when they designed procedures and processes for the VA…

namnibor

It’s the same rats, except this time those rat’s ancestors are getting even by driving us Vet’s insane in the maddening maze they continue to construct and change like a demented Rubik’s cube.

Peter Kreutzfeldt

and the list’s have not been viewed by Trump because the underlings protect each other in exchange of favors in kind

Dennis

Dear President(s)

Trump, Obama, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Reagan, Carter, Ford, Nixon, Johnson, (and the whole Rest of The HeeHaw Gang before them),

It has come to my attention that your efforts to flush corruption from the agency that helps US veterans who have earned our help has failed. Can you please come up with a new idea?

You Friend(s),
The People

WyldeChylde

So when are you going to start rolling out stories about the other half of the VA nightmare? Those of us who have been languishing in the benefits backlog?

91Veteran
The Choice program has been a disaster from the start, and you hit it right on the head, Ben, that it very likely is the AFGE causing the problem. That, and a complete lack of oversight by Congress in how billions are wasted. With your comment Ben on the AFGE slow-walking this, it says to me that Congress is too gutless to provide oversight because of what they might find, specifically the AFGE standing in the way. If congress investigated… Read more »
cj

1000000000000000% AGREEEEEE!!!
^^^^^That’s a lot^^^^^

91Veteran

Ben, the subscription to new comments is still not working. The only emails I saw were new comments on yesterday’s post. Nothing new today.

91Veteran

My mistake Ben. I just got emails about new comments being made on this post.

Crazy elf
I just watched a video from “Next News Network”, Gary Frenchi reporting, dated; 29 August 2017. Titled: “Roger Stone Just Said The One Terrifying Thing Trump Must Do To Drain McCain & Flake & Corker” Whether you like Stone or NOT, what he’s stating makes perfect sense! Basically, he’s saying the “congress needs to be brought to heel!” When has anyone actually seen Congress get it right on anything in the past MANY decades! What the hell are they really… Read more »
TaB
Meh, I agree. Until the people who persecute whistleblowers and/or who cause(d) the fraud, waste and abuse that prompted a whistleblower to blow are held accountable, I’m not convinced that any real change is happening. Seems more like Mr. Wilkes was invited to speak with management because Mr. Wilkes, after threading water of VA persecution and getting the media and GAP involved, is a voice that cannot be easily silenced….in other words, the VA is giving Mr. Wilkes 10 minutes… Read more »
windguy
When is our petulant pre-adolescent President going to pull a Reagan and douche the AGFA like Rayguns did the PATCO? You’d think by now that he’d have enough ammo to make his case. Huh. Must not be a priority. There probably isn’t enough media giz to make it worth his while. I guess we have to get closer to an election. Any adult that allows their kids to serve in this country’s military is a fucking idiot. sorry – bad… Read more »
Under water basket weaver specialist
Under water basket weaver specialist

Audit the choice funding and its use at each hospital. I have met two va finance chiefs and neither could balance a checkbook. Both moved money around sooo much that program managers couldn’t run their departments. If they where challenged to explain the expenditures, well you’d never get an answer.

Figure8fan
On march 15 I tried to make an appointment with Orthopedics. The first available date to be seen, June 15. I was eligible for the Choice Program. After many times of going back and forth between my PCP, the Choice Program, and Ortho Indy, no one could get anything right. The result, the Choice Program was no longer an option as 30 days had past. So now the VA wants to put this in as Non-VA Fee Services. Because of… Read more »
Mike
The VA is a horror movie with nothing but mafia members in it. They have other ways to create illusions veterans are getting care. They manipulate radiology reports to say there’s no problems, they write fake exams when never seen and they change medical notes at will worse that a blind man erasing his mistakes on the Sunday crossword puzzle. It is fucking amazing they way they do at ease, like it okay to rewrite medical notes to CYA. I’ve… Read more »
Mike

Oh, I found online a power point presentation that is all about changing vets medical records. It was given to doctors reminding them that they are responsible for mistakes for up to 2 years. They did not blatantly tell them to change, but explained how to do!

91Veteran
Mike, that is the reason why you put things in writing. They cannot deny it then when they change records. This happened to me. I was lucky enough to get a copy of the PCPs notes the day of the appointment. It was printed out by the patient advocate who I was seeing on another matter. I read the notes in her office, then made clear there were several false entries in the record. The patient advocate knew there was… Read more »
91Veteran
Mike, in each instance where they are changing your records, you should be contacting the Privacy Officer in writing at that VA and asking them to correct the record. If it happened more than once, I would ask for a different doctor because the one you are seeing is deliberately falsifying your records. PUT THINGS IN WRITING. By doing so, it creates a paper trail that the VA cannot ignore. Finally, if that quack is licensed to practice in Colorado,… Read more »
Mike
They don’t care, told director and chief of staff. I showed her proof and said that this shit was too stressful and I want nothing to do with at all. The last time I turn a nut doctor in he said would seek revenge and that he did. I said all I cared about is my health and nothing else. So the fuckers change my records, the director has a compliance specialist who is an RN and worked at IG… Read more »
James Gallegos

The RICO crime is now being used against state’s who passed the marijuana law !

The suit is being brought by a family who has a summer home in the mountains, by a legal grow facility. !

Their argument is the smell hurts their 👃 and they don’t like the smell when riding their horses !

Going after marijuana that helps people and the VA is letting veterans die ! With their RICO activities !

Something is wrong with Sessions. !

Mike
I don’t like the smell of the shit either. It’s legal in CO, but at home. These turds don’t care, smoke anywhere, in front of kids and don’t care. People argue it helps, but when ask them to use a different way? Say no, get pissed and argue. I use hemp protein in smoothies almost every day, there’s plenty of ways to use if works on pain. They want to smoke. Fucking people are selfish and don’t care. Had a… Read more »
Crazy elf

Here’s something good news,
From: “The Still Report”
Dated: 29 August 2017 (4:06 minutes long)
Titled;
“Sen. Flake Losing to Dr. Kelli Ward!

Actually, she’s “trouncing Flake” in the polls!

In other news spreading the internet. Sheriff Joe is considering running against “Songbird McCain”!
Wouldn’t it be hilarious if Sheriff Joe were to bring out everything about McCain. And, I mean everything, starting with McCain’s failed military service, forward to his time as a senator! Lastly, for what McCain never did for veterans in his own district!!!!!!

Jo3n

Great article Ben.. After years of experience in being herded by VA staffing, and not knowing why, I had a feeling this was just a VA thing. Didn’t know it was wrong. Sounds like Veterans have to find a way to fight for our lives; again.

Anitabreak

Things have NOT improved for Whistleblowers at the VA. This is misleading. It’s true that there are now wait lists for non VA care and often that care takes much longer to receive than VA care. It’s such a scam.

Lem

I’ve been waiting 3 months for a “video appointment.” Finally called Choice and was given an appointment 30 miles away. Turns out VA Cheyenne’s schedular quit? Because of a wait list? Next schedular said he was working on it. But when I called with the Choice appointment to see what happened he said they didn’t have a provider.

Had my finale exit all prepared.

Joe
I have witnessed a form of number padding at VAMC San Diego. The ER staff takes the ID’s of the patients and holds them until a triage nurse interviews the patient. I once waited 17 house waiting for emergency care. They held my ID for about 5 hours. I had to demand that they return my VA ID. On subsequent visits they held my ID until after triage. This makes the wait periods look more than twice a good as… Read more »
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