Is Non-VA Care More ‘Hazardous’ Than VA Care? Unions Think So

Non-VA Care

Benjamin KrauseIn absolute defiance of reality, unions representing VA employees have come out hard against non-VA care – ie fee basis care – for veterans claiming such a move can be “hazardous.”

“[Veterans] deserve the best care we give them,” declared union chairwoman Irma Westmoreland to reporter Adam Smetz. Westmoreland deplored the move to allow veterans to see non-VA doctors under a diluted presumption that VA merely needs more funding for more VA employees to fix the problem.

Westmoreland is a nurse and chairwoman for Veterans Affairs for National Nurses United. The organization represents 9,000 VA nurses across the nation.

Her statement comes on the heels of the most outrageous scandal in VA history where numerous veterans were killed by VA policies and bad medical practices. Thousands of veterans were on secret wait lists across the country, which resulted in them not getting timely care. Numerous veterans died as a result.

Yet, instead of allowing veterans to seek safer care in a timely fashion, Westmoreland claims VA could fix the problem of killing and harming veterans “if they would just hire enough nurses and doctors.”

Westmoreland’s fix falls flat in light of the fact that many VA doctors work only half as hard as civilian doctors. Reports indicate VA doctors only see 10 patients per day, which is half as many as civilian doctors. In a more specific example, reports at Marion, Illinois VAMC revealed mental health care professionals were only seeing a couple veterans a week despite increases in need.

Can anyone be considered mentally stable and still make such a claim? How big would a rock be that could keep one from seeing the obvious problems at VA?

Another union representative, Marilyn Park, said it can be a hazard to send veterans into non-VA health care facilities. “In general, there’s a risk of falling more through the cracks when you have more players and they’re not in the same system.”

Park is the legislative representative for American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE). AFGE represents 210,000. They have a vested interest in growing the number of VA employees and have been accused of inappropriately shielding unethical VA employees.

Parks and Westmoreland are clearly displaying delusional solutions that would only increase harm to veterans without teaching VA the lesson of the market. If you do not provide a quality product, customers will go elsewhere. And nothing in health care is of a lower quality than health care that kills.

The problem with VA is that it is steeped in corruption where employees are unaccountable for doing things that would result in arrest or at least fine if they were civilian employees. Allowing non-VA care is the only fix.

Perhaps it is time that these numb-sculls get forced to endure VA health care for a change? All VA employees should be required to only get treatment at VA.

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    1. Ruben why do you repeat the same message on each post. Gets redundant and people will ignore it. Expand what you are saying! When why how.

  2. NON VA CARE = what you don’t receive in a timely manner from the VA Medical Facility Close to You! What a crock of __________. This assertion by Irma Westmoreland is nothing more than a self serving attempt to keep Veterans from receiving the care they need and continue the abuses vested upon Veterans by a broken system that she is ingratiated to. So, where are her solutions to reduce the wait times and provide truly world class medical care? The Veteran would be better served if she would get back to work where she is getting paid and not spending the time to attempt to deceive the Veteran and the general public.

  3. I will just state that since I have Medicare and am a 100% Svc. Connected Disabled Veteran, making me Tier 1, I use ALL civilian Dr.’s and indeed pay for copays and medicine copays myself because I would be dead by now had I continued with the VA Health System. Why? Because they have this “Formulary of Meds” and they would not make an exception when even the only RX on formulary caused my legs/calves/feet to swell-up to where could no longer even walk….AND…since the USAF gave me Hep B and HIV from either tainted blood transfusion or non-sterile surgical procedures, they would not even make an exception for the only antiretroviral three-drug cocktail drug that wuld work for me because the phenotype done by civilian infectious disease Dr. and foremost researcher said results showed I had mutated strain that was indeed resistant to ALL the drugs the VA only had on their “formulary”.
    My Dr. told me I would have in-fact be dead by now had I continued using the VA. My claim was approved rather fast for Svc. Connection for aforementioned as well as serious anxiety/PTSD as well because I kept ALL paperwork in-service and from the Red Cross whom sent me registered/certified letter after a blood drive two months post surgery from anon-base blood drive that this infection had indeed occurred….the VA had absolutely no defense on the issue.

    Pretty scary but honest truth. I am not the only person this has happened to while on either active duty or post-career and the VA Health System doing it to them.

    Would you have stayed with the VA?

    1. Namnibor, you are sooooooooooooo right! 45 year’s of abuse by the VA myself and I really found out I wasted my time with thinking everyone of these last in their class doctor’s and other medical people had my best interest, only one or two in 45 year’s is how you say, bull shit with out cursing is like trying to find quality health or mental health care in the Veterans Administration in these United States!.

    2. I couldn’t have said it better than namnibor. I’ve been using the VA since 1969 as when I was discharged from the Army from a GSW I was just transferred to the VA hospital in my hometown. I now live overseas and use the VA in Manila, which is one of the better VA’s I’ve come across. The quality of VA healthcare for the most part is more substandard than most 3rd world countries and a statement to the VA: I am not a guinia pig. Do not try new drugs on me before they’re on the civilian market. I made a promise to you to go to war for your greedy wants with the understanding that if I was wounded you would take care of my conditions and those of my family. Now I see nothing but reneging on promised benefits and creating an illusion that the VA is quality healthcare. Is that why they hire some doctors from foreign countries that can’t pass the AMA testing to practice in the private sectors? Seen that alot.

  4. It seems that most of the followers of this blog did not read the original story. There is a link,go read the whole story!. And Yes the VA has problems, but this blogger bent the words to fit his agenda. That is far worse then anything the VA could have done.As a 34 year career service ( Army, Major ,O/4) he is not in my team.

    1. 34 years and you only made Major? Maybe it is a good thing not being on your team? Ms. Westmoreland still made the comment and is still paid by the VA while she spends full time defending her bureaucracy and her legions through her union activities.

      1. You are so sharp, how about I spent years as Enlisted starting at uneducated high school drop out Marine PVT……. and the truley pulled myself up by the bootstraps. So, Dan, you do me an unjust jab, that just shows what you are made of. I would suggest you check out my Linkened.

      2. Forgot to say I stood on the yellow footprints in 1969 at Parris Island. Served till 1973, ETS as SGT,USMC. Was picked up later by two Army Reserve Recruiters, that also served as Marines, said take this test! Passed test?? Now what??? They said if you can be a Sgt in the Corps you can be a General in the Army!

      3. Dan F, say what you want about the article, but your comment (rightly called an “unjust jab”) about S Morrison’s rank vs years of service was way uncalled for. Grow up!

      4. To Vic. I put a question mark after the first two sentences. You have to admit if he was an officer for 34 years and only made Major, there is something not right. Then again, I have a good friend that was OCS and in three years (after two tours in Nam) he came home a Major.

        Now on to the Major, at first I was going to ignore your remarks. However, do you somehow think your are the best thing since apple pie and sliced bread? Do you want me to be impressed? Sorry, that dog won’t hunt. By the time you were stepping on those nice yellow footprints, I had served my time with the 1st Cav in Vietnam and was just 20 years old. I was one of the guys that got your Marine buddy’s asses out of Khe San in 68. Read some history of the 1st Cav in Vietnam in 67-68. Maybe you will understand there isn’t many things or people who impress me. BTW I was drafted and was an E-5 within a year and a half and was offered OCS. Should I have put all that in before making a comment?

        So, is my dick bigger than yours…I don’t give a damn. You are the one who came here attacking the writer of the story. There was no need to insert your credentials – they are totally irrelevant as to how the VA treats veterans. Disagree, fine, that is your right. But, I assist veterans with claims and questions regarding VA benefits. Maybe you should listen to some of those vets fighting the system instead of attacking someone who actually helps vets. (I am referring to Ben Krause).

      5. Dan F.
        I appreciate your service with the 1st Cav. And I am not going to debate who saved who’s butt in whatever action. The 1 Cav. has a commendable record, no question. But I could also point out history lessons from Korea as the Marines that played rearguard from Frozen Chosen. Let’s not go there. This is beginning to sound like a drunken chat at the local VFW bar.

        You still do not get it. This started out as a discussion on the VA. However you have turned it into a personal attack on my record and career. You were boots on the ground before me, thank you sir, honestly. However , the Corps had a whole way of looking at promotions the Army and the other services. To make Sgt. /E-5in less than four years in my MOS, was an exception.

        You say you were “drafted”, at least you did not hide in Canada. I enlisted, did not wait for a the daft, when I was just 17 years and 3 weeks old. MY first taste of reality was looking at palm trees, thinking Oh, Lord ! What have I done? But I spent my first 4 years as Crash Fire Rescue. All the way from hose jockey, crew chief, SAR ( flying fireflies), and up to training NCO. I was proud of my service then, as have no regrets. I also sustained a injury/disability while in the Corps.

        I continued as a civilian Firefighter for the rest of my life until I retired from old age and disability. During that time, I also was in the Army Reserve, retiring as Major O/4. And yes if I had started out as a ROTC, OCS or even a ring knocker in 69 it would be implausible to go that long a just be O/4. However I spent more years as enlisted before going off to OCS. I was a Military Policeman ( that was weird being a firefighter ), Engineer, and Chem Specialist. So by the time I went to OCS, I was sure the heck a lot older than the rest of the crowd. And yes, I was commissioned as a 2nd LT. Another rude change of brain cells. But having the wisdom and background to know that the NCO’s are the glue for a unit, and I was just signing paychecks, I did pretty darn good. I was promoted “on time, on target ” as I moved up the ranks. Doing all the ticket punching schools and positions as required plus.

        My last years in the Reserves I was one of SME Instructor for the Nunn/Lugar “200 Cities Program” that was drawn from the Reserves. Having a civilian Firefighter/HazMat Specialist/ Paramedic background and as a Army Chem Officer, I was assigned to teach different Cities ,Counties, Fire/Law/EMS/PW personnel on WMD ( We May Die) management. I was even called up for 9/11 ( my birthday ) to take a Reserve Chem Unit to WTC for evaluation of hazards.

        Hurricane Sandy, yep, I was there on the ground at Breezy Point. The joke in the firehouse is how many blue tee shirts you have and were did you get them? I could go on and on. However, we are back at the bar, Yep, my time probably was irrelevant. But my point still stands, taking just part of a story, and not reading the whole story gets you nowhere.

        AND I DO AGREE that the VA needs some major fixes.

    2. …and I thought Fakebook was anal! The VA suck’s and after being a victim I really do not see it changing and although the doctor’s and dentist put my private care down it is leaps and bounds over VA noncore. Combat Medic wounded in an ambush along with 34 other WIA and 7 KIA. One of my wounds is a head wound, 2 inch hole in my skull with metal from Chi Com Grenade’s. Retired from the Military for those wounds that put me in the hospital for one year. Paid compensation by the VA for that wound since 1968…last year the VA denied I have a TBI! WTF?

  5. non combat injuries, If you are in the military and get injured and not in a combat zone, you are still injured. A bullet is a bullet no matter where you are stationed. I looked up the v.a. sight and it had a place where it states that if you have a t.b.i. there id special insurance for that veteran and asked you to answer some questions to see if you qualify. It only cover veterans from a certain time line. Say after 2004. Veterans that have a t.b.i. before that cut off date loose out, I guess a old t.b.i. is not the same as a new t.b.i., what do you think. Old t.b.i. vs. newer t.b.i. is it really fair not to julaify because you got the t.b.i. before 2004 ?.


  7. The one thing that outside private Dr’s have is newer updated meds and equipment. The VA is lagging in those areas. The VA has a set list of meds they use. You cannot get any of the new meds that may actually help you better. I kinda like what the MSgt states. That is a good point. VA for VA related things and outside for other things. That should make it easier for the Dr’s to be able to spend more time on service related problems and not have to deal with someone with the flu.
    The “nurse” who stated this should be punished for being a lobbyist and not a nurse. I would go to an outside source for some of my care if it is an above average place to seek care. I also would like to see the money come from a different source and not out of the VA funding. They need it to pay all of the bonuses or performance incentives or what ever they are calling it now (just kidding on that part). They need to get the VA up to the newest and best stuff we can have for us vets. Not old outdated stuff and outdated Dr’s. I wish I had a Dr. like Denise has. My old Dr. was not worth two cents. He cost me a job that I was trying to get because I tested positive for my chronic pain meds. I was upfront with the company hiring me about them and showed them exactly what I am taking and that it would show up on a drug screen. They said no problem, just have the VA give us a note that you are taking this and have a valid prescription for the date of the screening test. I called the CBOC and secure e-mailed my Dr. about exactly what I needed to get this job so I could start the following Monday. That was on August 8,2014. I finally had to go to the website and print out the prescription showing the site url and everything and they finally accepted it today (9/4/14). What a bunch of BS. My Dr. sent me a copy of all my meds that I am taking and scribbled his signature and the date on it. This was after I told him exactly what I needed. then he stated that if I needed a more detailed letter I should have let him know. I DID!!!!!. He cost me that job and he doesn’t care. I moved from the Seattle VISN because of how bad it is. It ranked 8th out of 141 VA healthcare facilities they had inspected and I can see why. I am surprised that people haven’t died from getting care from that place. The Patient Advocate doesn’t care either. after I told her I had moved then she stated that she no longer needed to follow up on this. So she will do nothing about it and it will continue. I have moved to IN and I am being seen on a Sat. for my intake. My father goes to this VA and says that they do that when they get covered up. WOW, maybe a VA that cares some about their patients. Maybe I will find out why I continue to lose blood aver the last two years and the Seattle VA was content in giving me more Iv’s and doing nothing else to help.

  8. This has nothing to do with this article,but Don Morgan is a low life individual I am proud to never have served with. He has failed at everything he has attempted,military school,military service,law enforcement,and even at wrestling;now he claims he is an American extremist who wants to serve with ISIS,to start,. he is not an American,he may be a United States citizen. I don’t know he may be a VA employee at that.I am personally glad I did not have to depend on him covering my backside in a fire fight!!!!! Anyone interested in finding out about this low life can go to NBC/breakingnews/DonMorgan.

  9. Of course the AFGE and SEIU (read communists) don’t want anything that reduces the usage (read user pop, inpatient and/or outpatient visits) since it would reduce workload, thus reducing manning requirements, thus reducing union dues. I’m not sure I want insurance cards either, not until the ACA is completely overturned. You’re probably right Ralph, and I’m 62.

  10. The medical world outside the VA has been changing drastically over the last few years. Big hospitals and big healthcare systems that “dominate” a region or a town have been buying private doctor practices like wildfire, and the physicians at those practices are “forced” to see more patients as a result, because the company then wants “volume” to increase revenue and profits. They didn’t buy them for noithing. They expect to increase patient load and they are now the boss in charge of how they do things. Many doctors and doctor groups feel strained and form “concierge practices”, seeing less patients and giving the patients more of their time and access at all hours of the day. These concierge groups don’t wish to be bought buy a large hospital system network and treat a smaller ratio of patients-to doctors for a yearly upfront fee to the group as well as per visit costs as normal. It’s a choice on where a doctor wishes to work. You, as a patient, feel like you are just rushed through the visits and don’t have the connection there used to be back when with group-owned practices. It’s all about money, and it’s run like a business.
    Also, the VA pays a private practicioner a very low amount of money through fee-based. Many won’t accept VA fee based dollar amounts because it is too low and not worth the aggrevation of dealing with the wait to get paid by the VA – which could be a year or more. If the doctors accept VA fee-based. you probably won’t get the quality care other people will get using their own privat insurance. The VA has seen this and then has to correct the problem with their own doctors. This results in a bundle-up for them as well as the extra time and money to correct the problem than they would have to pay if they didn’t fee-base at all.
    I know this all sucks – I know the medical industry sucks – and I know this sucks for the veteran involved…..but that is how it is. The whole medical profession is tight as thieves, flolks. The VA wants to continue to act as their own private entity (insulated) and the way it is going it hasn’t been the answer either. I would like to hear what will be done about this but no articles I read anywhere gets to the problem.

    1. The Veterans Administration has the lowest quality medical people in the Northern California Medical System! One example is Martinez, California VAMHC where I have had low quality last in their class doctor’s or PA’s since 1968! I trusted them and now through some medical records record’s I just received I see that I have been set aside and kicked in the nut’s by the lame ass VA and NSO’s and VSO”s that because of the hearings in Washington D.C. have learned that the VA is just like any other failed business that seems to kill veteran’s or disable them from medication’s and procedure’s that are not needed! FTVA!

    2. Well, I can tell you, hospitals and doctors ( much newer to) they were being bought up to make mega-businesses out of hospitals. This was extremely upsetting to the staff who not only had patients to care for, but now tons of paperwork too. Yes, newer equipment, electronic health records are a definitely a plus, however longer hours, per day and rather hire you as a part time person so then they wouldn’t have to provide insurance. Realize, this was all happening in the early 1990’s and now that Kaiser has teamed up with the VA with asking questions, taking blood “all in the name of research.” Being one who has worked those high stressed areas, you sometimes have to rely on “gut instinct” and trust me, it’s like a big red warning sign with patients and I’ve never been wrong trusting it. But this test? Gee, that instinct kicked in and stated, “trash it.” Corporations found they could really make money big time by getting supplies dirt cheap as they bought in large bulks, which you hear of that &50.00 dollar bandaid cost them mere pennies. Medicine, as my own Doctor was the “Head Big Chief” at one hospital local here told me it was just so political and we are Doctors so no matter what. “patients come first,” money later. Unfortunately he felt that Doctors too truly were lost and caught up like buying stock in these big corporations, and it was not his way. When I moved here I chose him, turned out excellent choice. 19 years as his patient, I sure don’t hide one damn thing from him regarding the VA! He knows my level of knowledge and how expansive it’s is just for the joy of learning, always the sponge for “growth.” He knows about the ER visit, knows I was “wise” asking for that x-ray because that was one thing seen, swollen tissue as well as my metal parts. Which the next doctor at the VA stated “no proof,” so the x-ray in the record had proof, did he miss it?
      There is no surprise that expanding out and seeing other doctors is an option, my thing is this, “as long as I get to have a choice WHO IT IS TREATING ME! I have the know of who is good and who I’d run from quickly-my fear it’s “those types” that get the contract to treat patients, and I wouldn’t let them treat a cotton mouth snake! We have such a failed system in the North Texas VA System, I still can’t get the privacy officer to talk with me over failed care, not once, but four times, for my back, and trust me, they “do not listen nor read reports!” But also the Mental Health Division has a lot to be desired. The biggest damage you can do to a person who has had a and or PTSD & MST events. Giving them obscure diagnosis, not being properly treated, from what I am reading on Facebook for PTSD & MST people who feel a system that has “Failed them.” As a side note, as I read the postings, one set off that damn “instinct” and sure enough I informed a person in charge of the room, she told me I will try and find someone to get this person. It sounds like I am a glutton for punishment, but all my life I’ve just cared at a level only others like me can. We set ourselves aside, yet we too have our issues, but push my damn button, oh trust me, tread carefully! Speaking with the one Social Worker who did my intake, I told her, “you do realize that is not my story,” she responded, “that is exactly what you told me.” Remember my instinct? That return she gave was one filled with fear, an animal scared because a Salior I Was not a soldier, and none on that base. Interestingly enough I wish to share with others regarding a video I watched regarding Russell Brand, he has studied MST and the Victims, and reading up as well, I have to say it, he was right on regarding the mind. Just an FYI if you wish to share with others, because we all need to know yes, retraining is being done, slow it maybe, but informed he shall become with what I have to say.
      Just as a side note-this line up has already happening with outside facilities, you may just hear what they wish to say, but hands down, it is a done deal! An article published 08/29/2014 MedPage and an article about the VA, civilians in the medical profession weighing in. Blessings, I remain positive, I have to. If I spot someone that is really off, I can only hope I reach them and offer choices.
      As my children were young kids would play and ask “does your mom have eyes in the back of her head too?” My children responded? ” NO! She has them all over her head and we can’t get away with anything!” Compliment? I don’t know, still thinking with a smile on that one!

  11. Every veteran should receive the same INSURANCE card which Congressmen carry. Nurse Irma Westmoreland is protecting UNIONS not veterans, which is fine, except she should LOSE her RN credentials the moment she becomes a lobbyist lobbying for unions and not a nurse caring for veterans. Her phone number is 706 421 6698, if you would care to call her with YOUR thoughts.

  12. Are you insane? No. VA care is the worst system of patient care that could be devised. Lets call the VA what it really is. The defense Departments liability management company.

  13. I do not see the VA changing much in my lifetime. I am 53. I have always felt that all non combat injuries and illnesses should be treated outside of the VA. Whittle the VA down to about 100,000 from 300,000.

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