Veterans

The V.A. Wasted $6 Billion a Year Even While Begging for More Money

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VA.gov

In the aftermath of a national scandal last year involving mass manipulation of wait times at Veterans Administration (V.A.) facilities, the acting V.A. Secretary, Sloan Gibson, said that what the V.A. really needed to fix the system was more money. Gibson backed a $17.6 billion request for federal funding as necessary to hire 10,000 additional clinicians and set up new facilities and infrastructure in order to meet demand for care and treatment within the system. Wait times would only increase without the money, he argued, and veterans advocates seemed to agree.

President Obama seemed to agree with the basic idea that funding was key to reforming the system. Last August, he signed bill providing some $16.3 billion for the V.A. A White House blog post explained that "the main focus of the new law is to ensure that veterans have access to the care they've earned."

A new report from a senior V.A. official suggests that the V.A. may not have had a funding problem so much as a wasteful spending problem, The Washington Post reports:

The Department of Veterans Affairs has been spending at least $6 billion a year in violation of federal contracting rules to pay for medical care and supplies, wasting taxpayer money and putting veterans at risk, according to an internal memo written by the agency's senior official for procurement.

In a 35-page document addressed to VA Secretary Robert McDonald, the official accuses other agency leaders of "gross mismanagement" and making a "mockery" of federal acquisition laws that require competitive bidding and proper contracts.

Jan R. Frye, deputy assistant secretary for acquisition and logistics, describes a culture of "lawlessness and chaos" at the Veterans Health Administration, the massive health-care system for 8.7 million veterans.

"Doors are swung wide open for fraud, waste and abuse," he writes in the March memo, which was obtained by The Washington Post.

One of the biggest problems mentioned in the memo is the use of purchase cards, which are supposed to be limited to relatively small dollar purchases, but have instead been used to circumvent federal purchasing rules in order to buy multiple billions in medical supplies without any of the usual contracts in place.

Frye isn't the first person to raise some of these concerns; some of the same issues regarding contracting practices have previously been documented by the V.A.Inspector General.

The public disclosure of Frye's memo, which was clearly intended to go outside the V.A.'s chain of command, is likely to give these issues a fair amount of outside attention, but you can't say he didn't try first. According to the Post, Frye's memo "discloses his repeated efforts to raise his concerns with other senior officials at the agency but says he was consistently ignored. He also accuses top agency officials of deceiving Congress when they were asked about questionable practices."

That last bit is important, because, presuming that Frye is on target, what it tells us is that the V.A.'s questionable spending practices weren't just errors or mismanagement; they were intentional deceptions. Which means that the V.A. was spending $6 billion a year in a manner they understood to be dubious, and they tried to cover it up even while begging Congress for more funding to fix a separate problem that also stemmed from internal corruption and deception.

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  1. The other problem with their assertion that they need more money.

    Where precisely are they going to find 10,000 unemployed clinicians to hire? Last I checked we were already suffering from shortages of medical professionals in the broader marketplace. Removing 10,000 more to work for the VA would just exacerbate the general public’s problems in finding doctors.

    1. Design, not bug.

      Then there’s even more need for government control of health care provision.

    2. Where precisely are they going to find 10,000 unemployed clinicians to hire?

      When you have $6 billion slush funds to throw around, you can attract some talent. Its a trickle down government program and they know how to run it well (stealing that is).

      1. Yes, at $600,000 to spend per new clinician they clearly have the money needed to hire as many as they want. My point was that every new hire by the VA would remove 1 medical professional from the private market and make access to care that much more difficult for everyone else

  2. …but have instead been used to circumvent federal purchasing rules in order to buy multiple billions in medical supplies without any of the usual contracts in place.

    Talk about inept. If you’re going to shovel money at a corrupt bureaucracy, at least do it so that money gets funneled to your cronies.

  3. This is only the tip of the iceberg with the government. This is nothing. The waste and corruption is so much greater than any of us can even conceive. Trying to grasp it is like trying to truly understand the size of the universe.

    1. “Trying to grasp it is like trying to truly understand the size of the universe.”

      – including Dark Matter and Dark Energy.

      1. Don’t forget dark wizards.

        Gore: My fellow Earthicans, as I discuss in my book Earth in the Balance and the much more popular Harry Potter and the Balance of Earth, we need to defend our planet against pollution. As well as dark wizards.

        Dark wizard: Sure! Blame the wizards!

        Gore: That’s why I’m offering a bag of moon sapphires to the first scientist who can solve this problem once and for all. Lovely, aren’t they?

        Dark wizard: Sapphires? With those I could open the Gate of Kerash!

  4. Sloan Gibson, said that what the VA really needed to fix the system was more money.

    Nothing can fix the VA. There is no profit motive and therefore no incentive to improve. Bottom line, if the government touches it…it sucks.

    1. Nothing can fix the VA.

      But have they tried increasing its budget?

      1. “We’ve decided to innovate in government financing. We are now multiplying your requested increase by negative two!”

        1. No, no. Negative two squared.

    2. Yeah like AmTrack, how much more money does it take to make the trains stay within the speed limit? $20 Billion seems like a good place to start.

  5. Y’all just wait. Tony, Bo, or am-soc *will* find a way to defend this.

    Despite the absolute abortions that are the VA and Obamacare, dumbasses will find a way to say that they’re still better than a free market health care system. I can’t shove my head up my own ass enough to understand their logic.

    1. Tony or Am-Soc – I don’t think Bo would though. He’s pretty SJW on *social* issues but (IIRC) pretty free-market otherwise.

    2. Buttplug will blame BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSH!

  6. Huh.
    Imagine my surprise.

  7. At this point, bureaucracy is EXPECTED to beg for more money – not doing so would draw even greater suspicion.

    Government only knows how to reward with money. What are they going to do, give more money to the agencies that aren’t in need of it? To a bureaucrat THAT is wasteful use of money.

  8. Last I checked we were already suffering from shortages of medical professionals in the broader marketplace. Removing 10,000 more to work for the VA would just exacerbate the general public’s problems in finding doctors.

    That’s why we need to use the VA as the template for our glorious new era of universal unlimited free health care for everybody.

    1. Good Idea Late P. Think of all the baby boomers we could let die in no time at all. Hey this sounds like the social security fix we’ve been looking for!

  9. NOTHING LEFT TO CUT!!! WHY DO YOU HATE VETERANS, REASON??!!

    1. THEY LEARNED IT FROM THE VA, ALMANIAN! THEY LEARNED IT FROM THEM!!!!

      *breaks down sobbing at thought of ever being treated by the VA*

      1. LEAVE GOVERNMENT ALONE, SWITZY!!!!

        *sobs, eye makeup runs*

  10. In the aftermath of a national scandal last year involving mass manipulation of wait times at Veterans Administration (VA) facilities, the acting VA Secretary, Sloan Gibson, said that what the VA really needed to fix the system was more money. Gibson backed a $17.6 billion request for federal funding as necessary to hire 10,000 additional clinicians and set up new facilities and infrastructure in order to meet demand for care and treatment within the system. Wait times would only increase without the money, he argued, and veterans advocates seemed to agree.

    President Obama seemed to agree with the basic idea that funding was key to reforming the system. Last August, he signed bill providing some $16.3 billion for the VA. A White House blog post explained that “the main focus of the new law is to ensure that veterans have access to the care they’ve earned.”

    “Government care” can’t give us what we need. After all this war, we’ve earned the right to tell you fuckers we don’t want your care, we don’t want your protracted conflict, and we don’t want your slavery known as government with your sorry excuse that we need you folks in fancy suits to protect everyone and promote freedom while you legislate it away here at home.

    You effing can’t protect anyone efficiently, let alone care for them. We’re the ones with balls enough to respect the liberty of all through providing defense and security through private means.

  11. As far as I can see, about the only thing they did that might get them in trouble was lying to Congress.

    1. Yeah. Look what happened to Lois Lerner and Hilldog Clinton and the VA people that fat fuck from NSA or CIA or whatever org….they all flat lied to Congress in sworn testimony. They TOTALLY got ass raped for that! Remember?

      1. I said “might.”

        1. *makes a face at sarc*

    2. *Guffaw *

      Yeah, that was rich…

  12. “The cupboard is bare. There’s no more cuts to make. It’s really important that people understand that,” Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat, said in an interview broadcast Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

    http://www.washingtontimes.com…..-left-cut-

  13. Well, that’s all just great, but i guess you all just want everyone to die in train crashes because you don’t want to spend more on Amtrack

    1. I think Amtrak got their funding. They found the eighth victim this morning.

    2. I’ve taken it to the logical conclusion. Funding AMTRAK causes people to die in train wrecks.

      1. Walking is healthier. this is how capitalism hurts everyone

  14. Congress is cutting funding for Amtrak! We spend pennies on the dollar- PENNIES! compared to civilized nations.
    We need more automated controls and braking systems, so the drunk train drivers won’t have to bestir themselves to actually peer through the windshield.

    1. Amtrak funding needs to be increased or you might see more employees masturbating on the train.

      1. While some of the comments there were entertaining (one even sounded suspiciously H&R-like), the fact that the guy is being accused of “sexual assault” is…a bit overboard, I’d say. Not that he should get off completely, but what he did is hardly “assault” in my book.

        1. I disagree. If your hand purposely comes into contact with me without my consent, I have a problem with that. Same principle with bodily fluids.

          1. From dictionary.com (I know, not the best, but a start)

            Assault
            1. a sudden, violent attack; onslaught: an assault on tradition.
            2. Law. an unlawful physical attack upon another; an attempt or offer to do violence to another, with or without battery, as by holding a stone or club in a threatening manner.
            3. Military. the stage of close combat in an attack.
            4. rape

            I don’t disagree that what he did was wrong. I take issue with the phrase “sexual assault”, because it doesn’t live up to the word assault in my book. Cheapening the phrase “sexual assault” doesn’t do anything to help anyone.

            1. Ah, now I understand what you meant (referring to stupidity like a “male gaze” is virtually rape). Thanks for clarifying.

        2. Lol, dammit I missed it: “Not that he should get off completely”

          This calls for a narrowed gaze.

          *lights Swizz signal*

          1. The narrowed gaze was definitely on my wish list with that post.

  15. Six billion here, six billion there, pretty soon you’re talking about REAL money.

  16. File under = Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

    NYT = “This chart shows how we have failed as a nation …. by Not Spending More

    Which is odd, because I found that story while looking for this chart

    question = which do you think is *actually* more germane to the issue of Amtrak and its upkeep?

    – a chart showing a “50basis-point shift in the % of GDP spent on ‘construction'” during the Obama admin?

    – or the *actual money spent on Amtrak*?

    1. Did you hear about the statistician who drowned in a river? The water was two feet deep, on average.

    2. That Times article is a masterpiece of half-truths. Take the bit about “The fastest train from Boston to Washington takes about six and a half hours. The fastest train from Paris to Marseille ? a slightly longer distance ? takes just over three hours.”

      That’s true, but it also ignores the fact that the BosWash corridor has a population of about 40 million people, two-thirds the population of all of France, and is basically city density the whole way. Outside of major cities, most of France has a population density of less than 80 people per square mile. The BosWash corridor has a population density that . I bet trains aren’t going 200 mph through downtown Paris, either.

      1. Gah, managed to screw up the comment with links. I meant to say:

        The BosWash corridor has a population density that pretty much never drops below 400 people per square mile and is often in the thousands the whole way. I bet trains aren’t going 200 mph through downtown Paris, either.

  17. Threat level OMG

    The Secret Service first spotted the drone flying over Lafayette Park at about 1:09 p.m., then located the person who was operating it, Secret Service spokesman Brian Leary said in a statement.

    Woods said the drone operator was standing on Pennsylvania Avenue, just north of the White House.

    Leary said that Secret Service members told the person to land the drone and that the person did so. D.C. police inspected the craft and deemed it safe.

    In a photograph provided by Leary, the drone appears to be less than a foot long on each side.

    Roads were closed around the White House in the afternoon while police investigated.

    The White House, according to all accounts, remains standing.

  18. That whole NYT article about infrastructure breaks down to, “Money is just like magical faerie dust. Sprinkle liberally, and PRESTO! good things will happen!”

  19. You are right; voucher system or simply give a soldier leaving service a medical bank account of whatever his share of this giant VA waste. Then close the VA and let the vet carefully spend his $ on the best choices for him as far as health care–even going to Mexico or Thailand etc.for service. Competition wins out EVERYTHIME.

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