PRIORITIES: VA Buys Couches over Paying for Cancer Screenings

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VA OIG Report South Carolina

COLUMBIA, S.C.: There is another scathing review of Veterans Health Care practices. This time veteran in South Carolina were struck down by VA incompetence and lack of accountability.

While this report is a month old, it comes just before VA admits to spending millions on other things like bonuses, advertising, and couches. In light of VA’s priorities, it creates a certain deplorable picture of VA priorities.

Here is what happened.

In South Carolina, a failure to screen for cancer in a timely manner was linked to the later deaths of six veterans. The procedure needed was a timely colonoscopy.

The facility in question is called the William Jennings Bryan Dorn VA Medical Center.

VA OIG cited the cause for the failure as VA’s inability to fill vital nursing positions. The positions went vacant while requests for cancer screenings piled up.

As a result of the delays, cancer in some of the 52 veterans who were harmed progressed to the stage of being deadly. Six veterans are now dead who would not be dead if VA did not mismanage its budget.

The OIG also learned that VA used about one quarter of the money actually allocated to alleviate the backlog of screenings: $275,000 out of $1 million. The hospital also sought to reduce veterans’ ability to receive health care from outside doctors during the back up, despite the previous history of veterans there using the outside care.

Meanwhile, in Georgia, veterans experienced appointment delays due to a similar lack of staffing. Yesterday, I reported that three other veterans died because VA health care providers failed to follow usual protocol.

All the while, and here is the kicker, VA chose to spend $3.5ml on just couches and another $5ml on advertising (in just 6 weeks) and countless more millions on executive bonuses in fiscal year 2013.

These kinds of decisions point squarely at mismanagement at the top.

The White House must protect its veterans. If the Democratic Party – the same Democrats I spoke to in 2012 about what veterans need – refuses to act in a responsible way, they will get fired this 2014. My fear is that the words I spoke fell on deaf ears.

Maybe it’s time we start to look outside of the box for candidates. Maybe 2014 will be the year of the independent candidate.

Whatever we do, as a people, it must be better than what we have now.

Sources:

AP: VA – 6 Deaths Linked to Delays in Cancer Screenings

The Daily Caller: Documents – Obama administration VA oversaw preventable veteran deaths

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3 Comments

  1. I had a CT scan done on Oct 4 2013. I received no report on if they found anything so I downloaded my health records on Oct 23 and they found some things that after checking on the Internet, are things that I think should be looked at and/or treated/taken care of. I secure e-mailed my PCP an LPRN and he stated “your scan was fine. there was nothing in it and all was clear”. I do not know what to do because the last time I raised a stink over something that was a legitimate complaint. I was refused physical therapy that was already approved. I had all my meds put on hold (I did not request a hold on anything) and they said that the only was that could happen was for me to tell them to hold them. I need these meds every day so why would I put them on hold. And my appointments were some of the shortest appointments I have ever had. When I got in to see the Dr. he brushed me off and said that my problems would be ok if I just rested and iced them. One gave me a prescription for a med that had a major reaction with four of the other meds I take. I woke up and could not even stand up. I had to stay in bed all day until the meds started to get out of my system. I feel like crap and I think if I say something I am going to go through the same thing and I don’t want to do that. I deal with enough every day just to make it through the day.
    any thoughts? Yes I did go to the patient advocate and she brushed me off as well.

  2. In the first place, the VA is lying about the colonoscopy. Nurses can’t perform a colonoscopy, a doctor must perform them. They require anesthesia because if a polyp is found during the procedure, it is cut off. This would be rather painful if done without anesthesia.

    Secondly, I’m so sorry that you only talked to Democratic Congressmen and Senators. If you bother to do any research on the subject, Democrats have a MUCH better record of increasing/improving veterans benefits than any Republican Presidential administration or any Republican controlled Congress. Since the President does not control what the House of Representatives does and since ALL spending bills MUST originate in the House of Representatives (Read your Constitution) and since the REPUBLICAN controlled House of Representatives has gone out of its way to cut veterans benefits, perhaps we should be firing Republicans rather than Democrats.

    • Interesting comment. I have read the Constitution. In fact, I scored an A+ on my law school final on the subject. My point in the article is that the funding was there; VA chose not to you it. The decisions being made in VA on policy are mainly directed by appointees of President Obama. Once he appoints them, the Democratic Senate approves them or disapproves them. I have spoken with Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill about these issues and am not terribly satisfied with either party when it comes time for the rubber to hit the road. Both parties use veterans as a political football. Both parties need to go.

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