VA Secretary David Shulkin’s “the sky is falling” technique of seeking funding for Veterans Choice proved successful yet again after Congress approved another $2.1 billion.

Shulkin told Congress that failure to fund Veterans Choice would result in a “dramatic impact” on veterans’ care if the funds were not approved by the end of 2017.

Given the proximity to the next election cycle, Congress was quick to write the check.

Since the inception of the program, in 2014, VA has repeatedly fleeced the program for other purposes and gone back to Congress hat in hand. Most notably, VA used much of the funds to pay for expensive Hepatitis C treatment.

Anyway, Congress continues to reward VA for its budgeting ineptitude. The agency continues to win whenever they hold veterans’ lives as collateral.

RELATED: Contractor Overbills VA By Tens Of Millions For Veterans Choice

Veterans Choice Prediction

Prediction.

Every few months, VA will seek more money for Veterans Choice. Congress will pay the money. No one will be held accountable for improperly forecasting the budget each year.

Care for veterans and veterans benefits will eventually be attacked once the public has had enough and veterans will lose.

Source: http://www.nbc15.com/content/news/Congress-approves-21B-for-Veterans-Affairs-aid-465766823.html

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40 Comments

  1. I think I’m gonna go to congress and petition for a billion dollars too. I mean, since you don’t have to provide any verifiable truth as to how the money is being spent, why not?

    Also, with my poor credit score (just like the VA mishandles/misspends) I should really be able to get congress to just shower me with money too!!!

  2. Makes you wonder if the actual scandals have been deliberate to perpetuate the begging , “sky is falling” scheme.
    The switch and bait of interim directors, VA actors and all.
    The government knows when to push the limits and probe the public with divisive narratives . The” Divide and Conquer Doctrine”. Corporations and companies have been trolling the public on their emotions with surveys and social media over the years to perpetuate the schemes.
    They wont quit unit someone comes in and targets the ” real “bad actors with major firepower! All head shots! #Canoe
    #FatBackDown ????
    The TunaBeast Vanguard Award goes to
    David BabyHuey Shulkin
    ???

    • VA Created Problems: Partial lyrics to Laurie Anderson’s “Only An Expert”:

      “[Now only an expert can deal with the problem
      Because half the problem is seeing the problem
      And only an expert can deal with the problem
      Only an expert can deal with the problem

      So if there’s no expert dealing with the problem
      It’s really actually twice the problem
      Cause only an expert can deal with the problem
      Only an expert can deal with the problem

      Now in America we like solutions
      We like solutions to problems
      And there’s so many companies that offer solutions
      Companies with names like Pet Solution
      The Hair Solution. The Debt Solution. The World Solution. The Sushi Solution.
      Companies with experts ready to solve the problems.
      Cause only an expert can see there’s a problem
      And only an expert can deal with the problem
      Only an expert can deal with the problem…]”– L. Anderson, “Only An Expert”

    • Oh Yea. The VA is TOPS at slight of hand and division. How do you think this damn “Opioid Crisis” got started?! They needed to get the public and Congress off the “Wait Time” scandal. All those Vets. didn’t die from waiting for medical treatment. NOOO! They all died from Opioids. No matter that the VA GAVE them the Opioids. So now all Americans living with Intractable Pain must SUFFER. PURE MEDICAL MALPRACTICE and TORTURE!!. Asshats now have a “Policy” for pain meds. IDIOTS!! Like everyone reacts to or metabolizes medication at the same rate. Been on 90mg. daily Morphine for over 20 years. Now BAM I get NONE. Fixin to get pretty hairy round here. Pain is building to intolerable status. THEN WHAT’S A VET. TO DO?????????????

  3. This is sad, but I think your prediction is correct Ben. Congress needs to setup a third party (not the VA) and stipulate that only funds to reimburse external patient care can be taken from that account. There must be a reliable, straightforward way to make sure these funds are going ONLY to Veterans Choice. It’s such a great program and gives veterans access to care that’s superior in most cases to the care VA provides. I’ve been a beneficiary for a few months, and as a result I’ve been able to see a chiropractor and physical therapist in my neighborhood, on my schedule. No more making appointments 1 month in advance for a time and place that isn’t convenient, and then having to wait an hour to be seen (wait a second, don’t I have an appointment? why am I waiting?).

  4. “[…Shulkin told Congress that failure to fund Veterans Choice would result in a “dramatic impact” on veterans’ care if the funds were not approved by the end of 2017.]”

    That “dramatic impact” comes directly from VA employees in the form of more insolence, indifference, and condemnation and sometimes through blunt-force trauma and death…DBC anyone?

    This is AFGE “little” Cox talking through the sock-puppet named VA Suck Shulkin in threatening to shut-down Veteran healthcare…holding us hostage in a very real sense, only to be again playing the empty shell-game with Congress.

    Lucy rips the football out YET AGAIN for both Veterans and Taxpayers and they JUST LOVE this shit SO MUCH they will be back before Spring, and am guessing around Jan. 19, 2018 begging for more under guise of IT and Choice. (combining created problems for double money grab).

    Are we going to be passive like Charlie Brown and allow this to continue or is it well-time we show some aggression and kick Lucy’s ass? (Lucy from ‘Peanuts’ kinda represents everything that’s wrong with VA Psych and Telemedicine…that pigskin football she keeps yanking-up represents the VSO and AFGE Piggies)

    • namnibor,
      It’s been way past time for vets and taxpayers to be doing something, anything, to straighten out VA’s upper echelon, all the way down to each little fiefdom’s director!
      What’s it going to take to “bring VA to heel?”

      Like Ben said, there’s gonna come a day, when taxpayers have had enough, (paraphrasing) and we vets are ALL gonna lose!!!!!

      • I read an NPR news article online about Trump ordering an audit of the Pentagon.

        Its the first ever.

        According to the article, federal agencies have been required to produce financial statements explaining how much they received and where it was spent. Seems the deadline for the Pentagon was September 2016, but the Pentagon delayed it because of a report of $125 Billion in administrative waste alone.

        The article says 2400 accountants will be used, with independent accounting firms hired for each component, Army, Navy, AF, etc.

        I am far from anyone who wants to see the feral goobermint getting bigger, but I could see these contract auditors being used annually on every agency. Right after they are done with the Pentagon, they can move on to the VA. They can conduct random audits during those years so agencies don’t cook the books for a certain year, and random smaller audits of parts of the agency throughout the year.

        With a stipulation that any amount identified as waste is identified, and a percentage of that is given to the auditors as a bonus. It would be a damn good incentive.

        These auditors should have the authority to refer to the DOJ for prosecution of anyone knowingly committing fraud and theft.

        What I’m wondering though is, if these financial statements have already been required since the 1990s, where is the VA statement? What is this law requiring these statements, and does it require making those reports public?

        Or are these so full of vague bullshit that nobody takes them seriously, and it has become another paper chase that Congress ignores?

      • I was thinking the same thing. Not only the report they send to Congress…if they do, but the documents from each division that went into their final report.

        I suspect their report is a multi-page book with lots of fluffy words with a few vague numbers:

        1. VA Health Care : received: $65 billion. Spent: $68 billion (because iCare)
        2. VA benefits: received: $71 billion. Spent: $62 billion and .99 cents (for the veterans!!)
        3. Administrative Operations and Maintenance:
        Received: $3 billion, Spent: $2.5 billion (working our rat claws to the bone, doing so much more with less) *(we reserve the right to revise this figure at any time depending on whether we get caught fudging it)

        I highly doubt there is anything more detailed.

      • Yes, however, those reports also allow you to generate additional FOIA’s as a way to drill down into those numbers.

      • I agree they would, if the VA (and those benefiting in Congress) allowed the documents to be pried loose.

        I suspect the VA would claim they were “pre-decisions”, and therefore exempt.

      • “No money shall be drawn from the treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law; and a regular statement and account of receipts and expenditures of all public money shall be published from time to time.” ~ Article I, Section 9, Clause 7, U.S. Constitution

        $21 Trillion dollars is missing from the US government. That is $65,000 for every person in America. That is more than our entire national debt!
        The Solari Report 2017

        Sorry People It must have fell out of my Pockets, My mistake, But you owe that money now…I have a not responsible for my actions Clause In my Employment Agreement

      • Another slight of hand. They try to convince you that our Multi Trillion $ Debt is due to well, we will just say “Over Spending”. Maybe it be from “Over Stealing” by govt. employees??!!!

      • Get Rid of the VA Head he’s a Doctor not qualified to run The VA.. I don’t trust short prople Either…Every one involved in this scam should be in prison Period ?

  5. I have to say the one thing that never ceases to amaze me is the fact the VA does not own & operate their own fleet of airline jets. If they did, am thinking it’s name would be “Legionnaires Express”, ~Taking Veterans to their final destinations each day~ (fading jingle music with singing funny hatters)

  6. At some point, one has to think the VA should have caught up and fixed the problems that caused the wait time mess since 2014, including hiring who they needed in places where it was reported by the VA as critical.

    Yet Shulkin continues his Chicken Little dance every time he runs out of petty cash, and congress readily ponies up without question.

    $2.1 billion here, $2.1 billion there, and pretty soon we’re talking about real money, even by VA standards. For whatever reason, $2.1 seems to be the amount they have settled on for each demand.

    What has that grace period of putting billions into Choice gotten us? Other than vets still getting bills and providers refusing to see vets due to lack of payment?

    Early reports of needing the Choice program had the VA claiming short staffing for the wait times and there are constant demands by some for proper funding. At some point, you would think the Choice program would have bought the VA enough time to fix those problems.

    At what point does congress start demanding something in return from the VA? Or are too many getting rich from looting the billions shoveled at Choice?

    For the veterans…of course.

    • 91Veteran,
      Here’s a question I’ll bet Shulkin can’t answer from anyone.
      With ALL the BILLIONS of taxpayers dollars given to the “Choice Program”. Why are there veterans out there having to pay for the VA’s screw up by NOT paying their bills through the Choice Program?
      Basically, the Choice Program is supposed to be paying these bills. And yet, after so many months, the Veterans get stuck with it! Why?

      Then, when Shulkin lies, throw his ass in jail!

      • Yeah, I can’t figure out why congress isn’t demanding an answer from him or from any Choice program contractors like TriWest or HealthNet/Center.

        The only answer I can come up with is, congress knows full well what is going on, and they don’t want answers.

        You would think that a program running now since 2014 would have the problems worked out. No more bullshit answers from Choice operators, no more billing problems with answers that the provider sent the bill to the wrong address. Providers having contracts to participate in Choice where the contract is honored, and the bill paid with 45 days of treatment.

        At this point, all of those problems can only continue if designed that way.

        What I can’t figure out is, what happens to the money not paid to a provider?

        If I have $500 in my account for buying groceries, and I don’t spend $300, that $300 doesn’t just magically disappear from the account, so next month I should have $800 for food.

        My guess is its the usual government contract scam where Health Net and TriWest are claiming huge administrative expenses for the program. So, of that $300 in my account that I control, I am skimming $100 a month off that by just “administering” my food budget. I can transfer that to my beer and chips account. $100 is skimmed for miscellaneous, and the remaining $100 goes to transportation and infrastructure. I need to drive to the grocery (liquor) store, right?

        So, I report to the IRS that I spend $500 a month on groceries, although over half goes to other stuff, such as my lobbying account that I use to try get beer counted as a food group.

      • Yep. Choice arranged for my cervical spine surgery. Sept.2016. plate in entire neck. Surprise, they never paid the $104,000 bill. After fucking with me for a year, they turned it in to Medicare. They paid there part now being sued for Medicare deductible and copays.

  7. Put an office of internal auditors set up just like the private industry with external auditors once or twice a year. For every dollar spent twenty would be returned. But they don’t have one by design.

  8. The Choice Program should act similiar to a flex spend card, where the money is paid on a card only authorized to Choice providers.
    If a flex card can recognize Tylenol at Walgreens, it should be able to recognize a fat VA Boss Hogg hand making improper purchases.
    The card should implode when a magnetic chip makes contact with that fat filthy fuck hand turning it into bacon bits!

    • They would figure-out how to place a card skim-reader on prostitutes and OIG would be making frequent trips to Mustang Ranch outside Vegas. Everything slides and skims at the ranch…

      • namnibor,
        It was reported a few years ago the DAV had their national meeting out in Vegas.
        When they returned, I asked, “Did y’all have fun at ‘mustang’?” A few were insulted, others “blushed”! That tells it all!

      • I bet a number of that DAV group took home a gift that keeps giving, so good to know taxpayers are getting their money’s worth from the seven year drip…

  9. VA Accountability; there’s none, and won’t be because (1.) the MSM has decided to ignore it, (2.) *most* politicians have their heads in the sand and are pussyfied, (3.) VA doesn’t foster an open door policy to directly deal with internal problems correctly, and to solve them, (4.) Veterans, over the long term, are being desensitized thinking VA will never change, (5.) most *professional* attorneys (no offense, just keeping it real), who’re able to create a big push for change within the VA, won’t band together to force their hand, and (6.) in totality, the VA’s public perception, is that the public believes that the VA is doing right by benefiting Veterans.

    Items (1.) thru (6.) are enough that clearly indicates, D.C we have a fucking problem. Shitting A-holes, everyone of them creating a multi-billion-$$$-scam against the lives of Veterans, their love ones, their service animals, and the US taxpayers. Who’re they fucking kidding? No one but themselves. IMO, and vigorously SMH. Roger dat, ober n out.

    • You’re right-on about the MSM turning blind-eye or brown-eye, Nutter.
      What we need is the undying attention the unreality hollyweird stars such as the Kardashian Train Wreck and have like Gomer Pyle, one of the Kardashians entering the military, barley surviving but needing the VA to perform an ass transplant and THAT should get the VA cleaned-up in no time with everyone’s attention and maybe toss a botched sex reassignment surgery by the VA into the mix to really get the football players kneeling.
      (imagine the VA contracts for those Kardashian ass wide BDU’s)

      Yep, in a mood. Welcome back, Nutter!

    • I will concur with the assessment. I will also stipulate that the only way to get the MSM’s “attention” is by organizing. Organizations like Occupy wall street got the coverage they did because:

      A. They where big enough and public enough to get noticed.

      B. They where extremely media savvy. And had a dedicated tech/media dept to get the word out and keep the word relevant.

      The media reports on things that are in the public eye anyways. You want to be heard? Occupy the National Mall on July 4th with about 50k preferably able body vets who still remember their training and professionalism. Stick to an agenda. You’ll be heard, loud and clear.

      I would also stipulate that by enlisting other “movements” one could boost their base by an order of magnitude. Veterans come from all walks of life. All groups, in theory, should be ready willing and able to throw their support and weight behind the Veteran movement as a whole.

      It would be a neat thing if something like this could be organized nationally with groups willing to “March across America” meeting up and growing in size the nearer they get to D.C. I’m pretty sure something like THAT would get some media coverage. Throw in groups like gangs/bikers/movement types showing up in droves to offer support and solidarity and you definitely got something going on.

    • Helen,
      Have you read any of Ben’s past blogs concerning the VA’s [NO]Choice [Slush Fund] Program and Patient [for VA] Advocates?
      Are you reading any of the comments?

      These vets, including myself, don’t like the Choice Program and some have pure hatred for VA’s Patient Advocates!
      (Personally, I’ve NEVER been allowed to use Choice! Even though I’ve received the card! As far as Patient Advocates, one tried screwing me. I got the person transferred. Because the VA didn’t/couldn’t fired her!)

      Ben has reported numerous times, negatively, on the both issues!

      As far as any Patient Advocate, well, they work for and are paid by the VA! That, in itself, should answer your question!
      Don’t trust any of the VSO’s also! They’ve got their heads up inside the VA’s backside!

    • Patient Advocates, if a veteran is aware they exist, are worthless. My VA had 3 of them, and I have interacted with all 3. 2 are flunkies and 1 is in charge of the other 2. The 2 flunkies both refused to do their job, even when serious problems were put in writing. 1 flat out lied and refused to return phone messages. The other is known by my congressman’s office as being a liar.

      The one in charge is also a liar, and holds the unethical position of also being the Press Relations contact. They refuse to answer how he would respond to a question from the media about one of his patient advocates…in favor if the vet? Or in favor of the VA?

      The Choice program could work if there was accountability, but like the VA, there is none.

      Or, as CorpsmanUp said, provide a card that could only be used for veterans health care.

    • The VA’s Patient Advocates are Physician Advocates and almost always can be found with an ‘Out To Lunch’ sign on door and in some regions local farmers utilize the VA Patient Advocates much like Groundhog Day, and if the PA can see anything but shadow in it’s periphery, Winter wheat is not a great idea to plan on.

  10. Of course they can’t predict a budget. You first have to know something about how the money is being spent to predict anything. These jokers at the local, regional, and national VA level have so many ways of gaming each and every VA program, rule, and policy that it is impossible for VA to know at any given moment just who is spending how much and on what? I mean, has anybody actually checked each and every zombie looking VA person walking around and see if they were actually hired? Do we trust VA brass to tell us the truth on this?

    My theory is that if you put children into a candy store and lock them in eight hours a day then it doesn’t matter where you post the cider house rules about frugal candy habits.

    America puts VA brass into a cabinet position that holds the reigns to cash numbers so big my computer truncates them to exponential format. Then we post the rules about spending wisely for folks who can spend in an afternoon what it takes 318 average Amercans ten years to earn? It’s like putting my grayhounds in front of a bowl of bacon and lecturing them sternly to leave it alone and guard it well and honestly. On the one hand there is hope. On the other hand hope don’t mean shit here. My male grayhound will likely gobble all but one slice and when the female goes for the remaining slice, well….he is a tactician and in love, so it’s amoire. The Circle Of Life for a male grayhound is just below the tail on the females and distraction by bacon is key here.

    For the VA the circle if life is Congress. They like bacon too and some pooch somewhere definately always ends up getting screwed too.

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