VA: $3.5M on Furniture, $1M on TV Ads – During Shutdown: Bonuses Rampant – VA a Danger to Veterans

The Department of Veterans Affairs may be the most dangerous obstacle to Veterans after being in a combat zone. The VA has asked for about $140 BILLION in the 2013 budget. The day before the shutdown the it spent $3.5 MILLION on office furniture including $16,174 for “ergonomic chairs” and $87,725 for “lounge seating and tables.” During the shutdown” the VA spent $1 MILLION on television ads, no doubt to support Obama’s agenda and bash conservative ideas on spending, responsibility and accountability. No surprise. It’s “Parent Agency” is the White House.”  Of the $140 BILLION budget, $55.7 BILLION is devoted to “medical care.” Administrative costs of $417 MILLION are only slightly short of the $583 MILLION designated for “Medical and Prosthetic Research, yet $3.3 BILLION will be spent on “Information Technology.”

Veterans_3

Employees getting bonuses have a method. They work the easy claims to get their numbers up. 

While veterans waited longer than ever in recent years for their wartime disability compensation, the Department of Veterans Affairs gave its workers millions of dollars in bonuses for “excellent” performances that effectively encouraged them to avoid claims that needed extra work to document veterans’ injuries, a News21 investigation has found.

In 2011, a year in which the claims backlog ballooned by 155 percent, more than two-thirds of claims processors shared $5.5 million in bonuses, according to salary data from the Office of Personnel Management. . . .

Beth McCoy, the assistant deputy undersecretary for field operations for the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), said bonuses for claims processors were justified because, even though the number of backlogged claims was rising, workers were processing more claims than ever.

Veterans’ hospitals are in shocking shape, says ABC (read it all – appalling):

Fourteen years ago, an ABCNEWS hidden-camera investigation ignited a firestorm about conditions and competence inside Veterans Administration hospitals.

Recently, there have been new stories of misdiagnosis, disastrous management and deficient care at some of the nation’s 162 facilities.

At a hospital near Cleveland, an ABCNEWS hidden-camera investigation found bathrooms filthy with what appeared to be human excrement. Supply cabinets were in disarray, with dirty linens from some patients mixed in with clean supplies, or left in hallways on gurneys.

At a neighboring facility, examining tables had dried blood and medications still on them. In several areas, open bio-hazardous waste cans were spilling over. Primetime obtained internal memos documenting that the equipment used to sterilize surgical instruments had broken down — causing surgical delays and possible infection risks. . . .

“Once you come back to be a veteran, it’s like a black hole, you know — nothing,” former Army Sgt. Vannessa Turner told ABCNEWS.

Legionnaires bacteria at VA hospitals “rampant.” (June 17, 2013)

Just when you thought the Legionella scandal at the Department of Veterans Affairs’ hospitals in Pittsburgh couldn’t get any worse, it explodes.

A bacteria that leads to Legionnaires disease “were running rampant at the VA’s hospital in Oakland five years before officials publicly confirmed a deadly outbreak in November 2012.

In fact, Legionella bacteria levels were so high between September 2007 and November 2011 that at least 30 percent of faucets, shower heads and public water fountains tested positive for the bacteria. Shockingly, a Sept. 21, 2007, report shows Legionella in 17 of 19 samples taken from surgical and medical intensive-care units.

It took a Freedom of Information Act to get the details disclosed.

Sadly and tragically, the latest developments only reinforce the notion that those charged with protecting our veterans have been threatening them the most.

Post-9/11:

The Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense spent at least $1.3 billion during the last four years trying unsuccessfully to develop a single electronic health-records system — leaving veterans’ disability claims to continue piling up in paper files across the country, a News21 investigation shows.

This does not include billions of other dollars wasted during the last three decades, including $2 billion spent on a failed upgrade to the DOD’s existing electronic health-records system.

For a veteran in the disability claims process, these records are critical: They include DOD service and health records needed by the VA to decide veterans’ disability ratings and the compensation they will receive for their injuries. Stacks of paper files — including veterans’ evidence from DOD of their military service and injuries — sit at VA regional offices waiting to be processed instead of being readily accessible in electronic files. . . .

The VA has promised to reduce wait times and improve accuracy by scanning the piles of paper claims into an electronic system for processing with new software, but the expensive transition has been beset with problems.

I feel helpless. ‘Disgust’ does little to repair the obscenities of everyday governance. Read more at the Daily Caller.

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PTG