Passing the Buck – Wait List Scandal dates back to Cirazca 2005, Bush Administration


Wait List Scandal

WT – Obama Administration knew about the brewing wait list scandal at VA health care facilities since the 2008 transition team started its work. But there is more than enough blame to go around. Importantly, when it comes to blame, the scandal dates back to 2005 according to a document created by the Bush Administration for the transition team. The document states the falsifying of wait times was detected by VA OIG in 2005.

[check out the Transition Team FOIA from Washington Times for yourself]

No matter how you spin it, the current scheduling crisis is undeniable and neither political party has fixed it despite more than enough time to do so. To compare apples to apples, Bush had 3.5 years to sort it out. Obama had 5.5 years to sort it out. No party has sorted it out after 9 years, which means there is something major and systemic rotting away inside the belly of the beast. Perhaps it is because VA is moving to a corporate model.

This transition team document probably explains why Obama has not declared “no faith” in Shinseki. Shinseki is the FOURTH VA Secretary to deal with the issue. It is possible that Shinseki is not expected to fix it, at all.

This means the problems with health care scheduling go as far back as the Bush Administration at the beginning of his second term. At that time, Veterans Affairs was lead by Jack Nicholson and stories from the Kerry smear campaign “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” had just set sail. It also means that VA was well aware of the problems for a very long time and failed to take immediate effective action for many years.

Yesterday, Washington Times reported on records it received from the agency through a FOIA request. According to the records, five years has passed since the Obama Administration was first warned by VA officials that the numbers coming out of health care division were unreliable.

[Veterans Health Administration] has made only limited progress in addressing the longstanding and underlying causes of problems with outpatient scheduling, accuracy of reported waiting times, and completeness of electronic waiting lists (EWLs).

The report indicates the Bush Administration was working to resolve the matter, but that those efforts were limited to merely assessing the scope of the problem and then passing the buck after three years of inaction. The report states no meaningful action had been taken to resolve the bad policies and information inaccuracies since 2005.

Audits of outpatient scheduling and patient waiting times completed since 2005 have identified noncompliance with policies and procedures for scheduling, inaccurate reporting of patient waiting times, and errors in EWLs. Although VHA has recognized the need to improve scheduling practices and the accuracy of waiting times data, no meaningful action has been taken to achieve this goal to date. Nine recommendations in prior OIG audit reports issued in 2005 and 2007 that were agreed to by VHA remain unimplemented, as confirmed by our most recent follow-up work in this area in 2008.

Recent reports across the country indicate this current VA administration, lead by Secretary Shinseki, has failed to fully address the problems since he took control of VA in 2010.

These records certainly undermine the sincerity of the responses from both President Obama and Secretary Shinseki. How could Shinseki really be “mad as hell” about something he was aware of a long time ago? How can President Obama also be outraged?

This is nothing more than political theater at its finest. It also shows that despite who is in charge, Democrats or Republicans, the problems in VA are long lasting and likely here to stay. No matter how serious, our political process has failed to address quality of care concerns for its veterans. This means it is time to sue and time to vote for competent leaders.

This is not only a data integrity issue in which VA reports unreliable performance data; it affects quality of care by delaying-and potentially denying-deserving veterans timely care.

Read More:

UPDATE 1:30 PM 5/20/14

This rabbit trail is getting deeper and deeper by the day. Check out this VA wait list memo that big media has overlooked from VA Deputy Under Secretary of Health in 2002. It suggests the wait list issue is much older than the past two presidential administrations.

It is on page 1 of VA’s Electronic Wait List Manual:

Thanks VeteransWarriors for bringing this to my attention.

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  1. This one will be short and maybe a bit sour, like bad milk-I have repeatedly warned every veteran I know, “GET A COPY OF YOUR VA RECORDS AND ANY MILITARY RECORDS AS WELL AS ACTIVE DUTY AND RESERVE RECORDS.
    Any time you have a war, it should be planned into the infestional . Having known my own certified copy was in my reserve medical records and are now “POOF!” MAGIC! They are gone. As stated, they will take information out, so that later, you are basically screwed.
    There is only one interest, that is to protect themselves from future claims-period!

  2. There is no IG at the Medical Center level. A patient’s advocate is the
    staffer to which Veterans are referred for complaints about unsatisfactory

    The IG is only at the VA Secretary level. If you wish to report a systemic
    problem or patient neglect you are told to report that to the Director of
    the medical center serving you or to its patient advocate. The IG at
    the VA Secretary level will tell you that they only deal with fraud, waste,
    and abuse of things related to funds.

    An IG is necessary to the medical center level since the discharged soldier
    is familiar with the name and its function.

  3. To point the finger at either political party is a red herring and the evil doers in Washington depend on it. Accountability is part of an individual’s moral compass if they have one.
    In some countries where there is a political/corporate scandal the leaders will step down.
    Our leaders dig in and lie and lie adnuseum.
    “A lie that is half-truth is the darkest of all lies”
    Alfred Tennyson

  4. It is time to take off the blinders! The problems with the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) both the Regional Office’s (RO’s) and the Medical Center’s (MC’s) goes back to at least Clinton (actually if you have ever studied the course of problems whit in the entire VA system they have been endemic since its inception and were made worse by Carter with the passing of the Gramm–Rudman–Hollings Balanced Budget Act during his administration ; but I will forgo a complete history lesson); the bottom line here is YES you can pick the President you want to blame and that is any president!
    You see The President of the United States of America is the man in charge of the VA he has the ultimate responsibility for the VA’s operation and performance; he (or in the future she) is the one that must be held accountable first and foremost. The President, going back as far as you want in VA history, could have fixed any problem by firing any VA employee who was an under-performer the President could have gone to Congress and demanded more funds to more than adequate fund the VA and the President could have lifted hiring moratoriums years ago, as well as currently, so that there would have been manageable claims workloads in the VARO’s (benefits claims) and more health care professionals.
    So before trying to hang it on Secretary Shinseki or any particular past President hold the CURRENT President at fault; remember, President Obama promised that he would fix the VA!

  5. It’s not the Democrats or the Republicans, it’s the Politicians. The quickest way to save a buck is to short change the group that is least likely to complain, us the Veteran group.

    It’s our fault Veterans, we let it happen, now lets demand CHANGE for our rights and benefits. The only hope we got is we the Veterans. You all stood side by side when times got tough on the battlefield and we need to stand side by side now.

    1. Bill, it would be great if we could do that. The biggest problem is that any vet who testifies will most likely get their service-connected disability changed to a non-service connected disability & would lose everything they’re entitled to get ( healthcare, education, ETC…). If you think this will not happen, then try it yourself and see firsthand. Why do you think this whole thing is such a mess & no one is doing anything to really correct it. They only do “damage control” until it goes away & then it’s business as usual. We (us vets) will never matter, be treated worse than people who abuse the Welfare system, & illegal aliens have more rights & get better treatment than we do. If I see anyone that’s wanting to join the military, I tell them to get a desk job until they get out so that they don’t have to go through what I have had to/and still am getting. I don’t think that several thousand of us would make any difference on this it would take several million of us & I don’t believe that will ever happen. We are stuck in this broken system & we have two choices, get out of it or stay in & deal with the lies, wrongdoings, manipulation, over or under medication (or have your meds taken away cold turkey), the risk of death from the VA but it’ll not ever be blamed on the VA (except under certain circumstances). It”s too bad because some of us gave so much & were told that the U.S. of A. would be there for them & would help them in their recovery, as long as it takes no matter what. The Dr’s swore an oath to help us & they don’t seem to remember that oath only the paperwork that tells them if they “game” the system (at the expense of the vets) they’d get huge bonuses. That part is practice daily & they see to it they get the most $$ they can. And we vets suffer.

  6. When we as “Veterans” admit to the cognitive dissonance that plague our American society and the VA Administration system, and stop assuming that voting or litigation can solve these issues. My question is Ben, Was not there “veterans” working for these health care facilities back in 2005, and why haven’t some of them come forward to testify ?

    Gen. Smedley D. Butler had it right, when he stated about 70 or so years ago that “War is a Racket” and with the VA Administration, the same applies.

  7. Goes way before Bush. How is it everything before this Admin is always Bush’s Fault. I am a disabled Vietnam Vet and if I remember the Bronx VA Hospital in Kingsbridge, was the #1 Hellhole I had to deal with. Pre Nixon,Oh yes LBJ. Thanks for the memories.

  8. Wars produce casualties. If the politicos want to cut veteran benefits then stop having wars. Problem solved.

    1. Wars are bankers’ wars! The same bankers who buy off our elected leaders once we vote them into power.

      Since the suicide rate among veterans averages 22 per day, the bankers figuratively and literally have blood on their hands.

      (And yes, I am also referring to the bloody American hand-prints on the walls of the CIA compound in Benghazi!)

  9. Been happening since 1980…it’s been getting much worse over the years. No one ever talked about it back them. Every patient was afraid due to loss of benefits if you spoke out. Our usual waiting time was 12 hours in the ER. My husband has been rated 100% service connected…

  10. When will the “blame-Bush” garbage end? If his administration was aware of a problem and made the effort to point out that this needed to be fixed because of an enormous influx of new patients due to the war then kudos to them. The National Defense Authorization Act for 2008 mandated that the DOD and VA secretaries “develop and implement electronic health-record systems or capabilities that allow for full interoperability of personal health information between the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs.” This was created under Bush’s watch and billions, yes with a “B”, has been spent since Obama took office to “fix” the problem. I was in Iraq in 2009 and have since been medically retired, however, I spent 2010, 2011, and part of 2013 fighting to get my records straight. On top of this my claim had absolutely been ignored for any rating for things that happenned prior to 2009. All the items regarding medical issues before my deployment were labeled, “Not service connected.” Considering that I had spent most of my adult life from 18 on in the service it’s totally impossible that none of the operations, broken bones, scars, etc, were not service connected. After exiting service in 2013 I could go to the VA officially and try to fix these problems only to find out that no one could find any records from other than my time in Iraq forward. They never had my records when they made my determination even though they were supposed to be doing this for retirement purposes. To this day “paper” records are still the only way claims are processed as per VA staff. This is total BS considering all the money blown on contractors that were hired to fix this. Is it any wonder that Obamacare is such a disaster when it is far larger a venture than fixing the VA? Not one contractor has been held accountable for basically never finishing what they were hired to do. Taxpayer dollars right down the drain and contractors with swollen pockets as usual.
    All of this was on Obama’s watch and none of it apparently his “responsibility”. He spends more time golfing and covering his own ass than accepting responsibility for his, and his cabinet’s ineptitude! Point the finger where the problem ultimately lies and stop wasting time looking for someone else to blame as Obama has historically done and continues to do. He is no leader, never has been, and takes no responsibility for his lack of leadership at the expense of America.

    1. Guess you didn’t read the article. It clearly states it is not just Bush’s fault.

    2. Obama, as America’s cowardly CINC, leads from the rear and armchair quarterbacks his foreign policy with lies, denials, and deception.

      The fact that his foolish White House spokesman, “Betray” Carney, continually to protest that Obama never knew about the VA crisis until after he saw it reported in the news speaks loudly of the propaganda that is unashamedly being spun to the low information voters in America.

      Hey! Did you catch today’s White House press release?

      Here it is:

      “War is peace.
      Freedom is slavery.
      Ignorance is strength.”

      Fall-in-line, you non-thinkers, fall-in-line!

    3. Umm.. Anybody remember the VA rape scandals several years ago?

      Some 300 people were sexually assaulted in VA medical facilities, and these numbers are the ones that were actually reported.

      The GAO investigated and concluded:

      “GAO found that many of the nearly 300 sexual assault incidents reported to
      the VA police were not reported to VA leadership officials and the VA OIG.
      Specifically, for the four VISNs GAO spoke with, VISN and VA Central Office
      officials did not receive reports of most sexual assault incidents reported to
      the VA police. Also, nearly two-thirds of sexual assault incidents involving
      rape allegations originating in VA facilities were not reported to the VA OIG,
      as required by VA regulation. In addition, GAO identified several factors that
      may contribute to the underreporting of sexual assault incidents including
      unclear guidance and deficiencies in VA’s oversight.”

      The aftermath was some legislature act that was supposed to guide the VA in reported sexual assault incidents.

      However, I can not find any single report since then on whether the VA is truly investigating sexual assaults and informing the proper authorities.

      The reason I bring this up is because all this political grandstanding, especially from supposed veteran advocate Senator McCain, will in all likelihood, if prior history of faux-outrage lip-service is any indication, result in another legislature act and then no follow-up.

      Then onto the next VA scandal…

      “Windmill or no windmill, he said, life would go on as it had always gone on–that is, badly.” ~ George Orwell, Animal Farm

  11. There’s no doubt even more will come out through future news media FOIA requests. What’s really creepy for us independent researchers and writers engaged in journalistic efforts on the VA exclusively is that we now know that the public relations and media office at VACO actually scope out and spy on us after we submit requests to size us up and see whether they need to “socialize the materials released.”

    We know that such behavior by the VACO minions is highly illegal and improper. But it shows the advanced degree to which corruption has risen. That there are such people within the VA that engage in this screening tactic to then limit the documents released is something I have presented to members of Congress. Under the law, such activity is nothing short of criminal civil rights violations since it is a device to prevent us from exercising our constitutional rights to seek redress — and becomes a form of retaliation for our past efforts to expose the corruption, wrongdoing and calculated deceit that these VACO employees routinely engage in.

    The bright side is that they are being found out and it won’t be long until criminal charges are filed by both federal and state law enforcement officials. When some of these criminals are on the bus headed to prison for several years, only then will their cohorts in crime take note and either fink on their fellow criminals or perhaps join them in prison.

  12. Washington Times? Really? OK, this is a thing, true enough. But to insinuate that Obama knew all about it, and that Shinseki was ‘well aware’ since the moment he walked in the door is a stretch at best. There are plenty of people that knew this was going on, and did their full best to make sure that they didn’t get caught and that means keeping it from the higher ups. If you consider the culture of the VA is a direct descendent of the military – hell, we all know that if you have to ‘get over’ to please the brass you will surely find a way to make that happen. We all know how to look good on paper or jimmy-rig whatever needs to be to get a pass. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that its been exposed, and that people will fry for it. Accordingly, it will bring change. But for the record, I have never had to wait an unrealistic amount of time for an appointment at the VA. If there is a blow out within the VA of such a magnitude that the culture does indeed change, then GOOD! Shinseki has done a lot to better the service that veteran’s get from the VA including the homeless initiative and the better treatment that is just now happening for TBI and PTSD. I’m not ready to throw the baby out with the bath water just yet, especially since this has been such a long slow brew – 2005? I bet it’s even longer than that.


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