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Veterans Affairs ‘Overhaul’ Throws More Money at the Problem

Will a new boss and more money solve the VA's problems?

by
Walter Hudson

Bio

July 30, 2014 - 11:49 pm

The House voted 420-5 to pass what is being described as an overhaul of the Department of Veterans Affairs in the wake of the scandal surrounding inadequate patient care. Fox News offers some of the details:

The House vote came just one day after the Senate confirmed former Procter & Gamble CEO Robert McDonald to lead the sprawling agency, which provides health care to nearly 9 million enrolled veterans and disability compensation to nearly 4 million veterans.

In order to be successful, McDonald “will need to take swift and decisive action to discipline employees responsible for mismanagement, negligence and corruption that harms veterans while taking bold steps to replace the department’s culture of complacency with a climate of accountability,” [Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla.] said.

The measure includes $10 billion in emergency spending to help veterans who can’t get prompt appointments with VA doctors to obtain outside care; $5 billion to hire doctors, nurses and other medical staff; and about $1.5 billion to lease 27 new clinics across the country.

Lawmakers anticipate support for the measure in the Senate, even among fiscally conservative Tea Party members. That’s to be expected. Spending on veterans is one of the few areas of public policy where virtually everyone agrees that more is better. Politically, it’s a no-brainer which enables members to wave the flag back home.

That said, more money may not be the best solution to the VA problem, not in and of itself. At root, the VA stands plagued by the same handicap Obamacare will place upon all of us, government bureaucracy. If you really want to incentivize “swift and decisive action to discipline employees responsible for mismanagement” and “replace the department’s culture of complacency with a climate of accountability,” then give it over to the market. The profit motive works better than any other to produce sustained quality and dependable efficiency.

To an extent, it sounds like this plan includes that with the “$10 billion in emergency spending to help veterans… obtain outside care.” But that appears to be plan B until the VA can grow its bureaucracy by leasing new clinics and hiring more staff.

Our veterans deserve the benefits they were promised, and they deserve quality care. The best way to provide that would be to transition away from government-run healthcare to grants utilized in a free market. In the era of Obamacare, that’s a pipe dream. But it remains a superior solution to lopping off a couple administrative heads and tossing dollars at the same corrupt system.

(Today’s Fightin Words podcast is on this topic available here. 11:46 minutes long; 11.35 MB file size. Right click here to download this show to your hard drive. Subscribe through iTunes or RSS feed.)

Walter Hudson advocates for individual rights, serving on the board of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Minnesota, and as president of the Minority Liberty Alliance. He hosts a daily podcast entitled Fightin Words, proudly hosted on Twin Cities Newstalk Podcast Network. Walter is a city council member in Albertville, MN. Follow his work via Twitter and Facebook.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
Analogy.

I have a car that is worn out. It will cost $1200 for a new motor, $800 for a new set of tires, $360 for new brakes all around, $200 for a new clutch and to replace the entire interior that is sun-faded and threadbare, $2,000. New paint will cost a lot as well, unless I "Scheib" it. Most of the other components in the engine compartment are due a replacement as well, such as the radiator, master cylinder, steering pump, the electric cooling fans, etc., etc.

So, after spending ~ $21,000+, I can have my car repaired. But it's the same old car. The dashboard will still be cracked, the radio will not work and the heater will still blow cold air in the winter time. That is, unless I spend even more money fixing those things as well. Not needed for the daily commute (except maybe the heater) but would be nice to have.

Or...I could take that $21,000 and buy a new car, with a warranty, more modern technology already in it, wipers that work, horn that toots, etc.

Throwing money at a problem has always been GovCo's answer to "problem-solving". And over the half-century that I've been a witness, it has only made things worse.

It thus occurred to me that politicians have no real assessment skills of any kind and think that problem-solving is deciding where and when to spend the money and how much and on what.

Nothing about accountability or managing said money.

I therefore conclude that government is a giant money toilet.

This is not a new revelation. I've known it for some time. But for me, the trick has become how to keep the government from getting any more of my money than they warrant.

And they warrant very little.

As for the billions to be spent on Vets...I foresee that less than one nickel of every dollar will make it to a Vet in need. The rest will be spent on stopping carbon emissions and unicorn farms.

For
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Transition all veterans to private health care vouchers, starting with the youngest veterans.
Close the VA hospitals or sell them off to private institutions.
The VA can then be dramatically downsized while improving veteran care...there will still need to be an investigative agency to handle veteran complaints and administrate the vouchers.
Demote the VA from a cabinet level agency, eliminate the cabinet office, and fold it in as a subordinate agency of HHS.
Yes, I know HHS sucks...but it is actually an improvement over the unfixable mess that is the VA, but the VA makes more sense in HHS and reforming HHS is another issue for another day.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (23)
All Comments   (23)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
Exactly right, most of government should be privatized.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Typical DC response to a problem - sacrifice some expendable civil service boobs and then throw more money at the same old problem. Until the fed govt ends the practice of FINANCIALLY INCENTIVIZING job performance of DISTRIBUTING TAX DOLLARS, there will be no change(s) in the underlying problem; come in 'under budget' and get a cash bonus....gee, I wonder why so many claims are denied despite official military medical records showing injury/illness occurred on active duty, sworn statements from witnesses, and of course the "since you did not appeal our decision within the allotted time" lies our decision is final.....

Bryan Preston penned an article describing the VA mess (paraphrase) "No matter how bad you may think the problem is, it is actually much, much, much worse..." 90% of America has NO IDEA how bad the situation really is - veterans do without medication, procedures, and a large majority live in abject poverty because their injuries prevent them from gainful employment. Literally, the VA has for many, many years gotten away with just waiting for veteran's to either give up (after repeated denial of claims and/or treatment) or to die and the problem is solved permanently. My brother has every copy of every appeal he has sent to the VA....normal response: "since the veteran did not appeal our decision, then our decision is final." But, thousands of career civil service pukes have gotten their 'bonuses' for the fine, professional, efficient manner in which they have treated the men and women who have fought and bled for our country. This abomination has been ongoing for decades; this is nothing new - look how long it took for Vietnam vets to get Agent Orange recognized as causing cancers (30 years).....I wonder how many died waiting while some civil servant 'lost' (meaning intentionally threw away or shredded the veteran's documents) his or her file to ensure they got their bonuses?

Remember BENGHAZI!
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment

Linus Adenoids
Re:
"Many of them,[politicians] I'm sure, would prefer that all US military Vets just up and die and eliminate the hassle of having to honor the US government's commitment to them."

That's a terrible and very crude thing to post, and should be retracted.

*************************
The sad truth is that what he posted was fact. Sadder still: I speak from first-hand experience. The doctors at the VA are being told to NOT treat the oldest and sickest vets. Sorry if you don't like it, but I am speaking the truth. My father was diagnosed with cancer, and they refused to treat him. He is now being treated by a civilian physician.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
I can back that up, having previously worked with Veterans (and am one myself). The common saying amongst us is, "Delay and Deny, until you die."

A close friend of mine, Navy Vet, passed away last September of soft-palate cancer. They gave him some perfunctory treatment, but otherwise, nothing, except the suggestion that they could operate to remove his Palate, insert a feeding tube, and place him into Hospice care until the end. He said no, as he didn't want to go that kind of route.

So all they did was send him occasional crates of "Ensure" to see that he had some sustenance, but didn't even schedule him to be seen for palliative care (except for a few bottles of Oxycontin, to take when he really began to nee it)or have a visiting nurse see him at home.

He was found deceased in his apartment of his cancer, after several days, because no one was even checking up on him (I did so, once a week, but he passed during one of the gaps in my own visits to him).

His name was John Major, a Desert Storm vet, and he deserved better than that.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
seems that money that could go to VA and to repay our veterans is now going to be misdirected to illegal immigrants and the children, one of which testified that border treatement was the worst experience of his life. So go home if you just had the worst treatment in your life.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
I haven't used the VA for about 6 1/2 years - the last time I'd went there, they pulled such a stunt on me that I was simply aghast (listing a failed knee I could not even walk on as "knee pain"). However, I really should go be re-assessed, so as to maintain a "paper trail." I will do so shortly, and see if anything has actually changed, and post about my experience at PJM when I do so.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Will a new boss and more money solve the VA's problems?"

Never has.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Analogy.

I have a car that is worn out. It will cost $1200 for a new motor, $800 for a new set of tires, $360 for new brakes all around, $200 for a new clutch and to replace the entire interior that is sun-faded and threadbare, $2,000. New paint will cost a lot as well, unless I "Scheib" it. Most of the other components in the engine compartment are due a replacement as well, such as the radiator, master cylinder, steering pump, the electric cooling fans, etc., etc.

So, after spending ~ $21,000+, I can have my car repaired. But it's the same old car. The dashboard will still be cracked, the radio will not work and the heater will still blow cold air in the winter time. That is, unless I spend even more money fixing those things as well. Not needed for the daily commute (except maybe the heater) but would be nice to have.

Or...I could take that $21,000 and buy a new car, with a warranty, more modern technology already in it, wipers that work, horn that toots, etc.

Throwing money at a problem has always been GovCo's answer to "problem-solving". And over the half-century that I've been a witness, it has only made things worse.

It thus occurred to me that politicians have no real assessment skills of any kind and think that problem-solving is deciding where and when to spend the money and how much and on what.

Nothing about accountability or managing said money.

I therefore conclude that government is a giant money toilet.

This is not a new revelation. I've known it for some time. But for me, the trick has become how to keep the government from getting any more of my money than they warrant.

And they warrant very little.

As for the billions to be spent on Vets...I foresee that less than one nickel of every dollar will make it to a Vet in need. The rest will be spent on stopping carbon emissions and unicorn farms.

For
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
>>It thus occurred to me that politicians have no real assessment skills of any kind and think that problem-solving is deciding where and when to spend the money and how much and on what.

Nothing about accountability or managing said money.

I therefore conclude that government is a giant money toilet.


Like +1000.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
STUPID TIME LIMITED EDIT FEATURE



There will be those who will then scream, "Why do you hate veterans?!", whereupon I will politely state, "I, too, am a Vet, but throwing money into a fire is foolish. First you have to put the fire out, then spend money to prevent the fire from restarting. Then, you have to manage the money with a fiscally conservative discipline, making sure those in need get the care that is justly earned".

GovCo is very bad at honoring contracts with Vets. Or anyone, for that matter and sadly, Vets have now become president Angrychild's latest political football to kick all over the yard.

On the plus side, he's very alone in doing it as most other politicians know it's political suicide to go against this grain. Many of them, I'm sure, would prefer that all US military Vets just up and die and eliminate the hassle of having to honor the US government's commitment to them.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Re:
"Many of them,[politicians] I'm sure, would prefer that all US military Vets just up and die and eliminate the hassle of having to honor the US government's commitment to them."

That's a terrible and very crude thing to post, and should be retracted.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Retracted? Why.....truth hurts too much? I bet a class action lawsuit with about 2 million vets would bring attention to this travesty....except in the communist msm, that is.

Remember BENGHAZI!
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Will a new boss and more money solve the VA's problems?"

No.

Next question?


Okay, a serious ansser. It probably DOES need more money. We have a long history of short-chainging our veterans.

But nothing will do any good as long as the unholy trinity of unions, civil service rules, and affirmative action (a.k.a., some protected classes CANNOT be fired regardless of cause, and MUST be promoted regardless of merit) remain in place.

It's all good money after bad unless that fundamental problem is addressed.

And even then? Absent market forces, it will probably remain a typical government agency.

Vouchers are a better solution.


17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Transition all veterans to private health care vouchers, starting with the youngest veterans.
Close the VA hospitals or sell them off to private institutions.
The VA can then be dramatically downsized while improving veteran care...there will still need to be an investigative agency to handle veteran complaints and administrate the vouchers.
Demote the VA from a cabinet level agency, eliminate the cabinet office, and fold it in as a subordinate agency of HHS.
Yes, I know HHS sucks...but it is actually an improvement over the unfixable mess that is the VA, but the VA makes more sense in HHS and reforming HHS is another issue for another day.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Two things.

Before we move the veterans into the private system, shouldn't we ask them if they want to go? And if they say no (and they will), what then?

How will we pay for the transition to the private system? Even the limited vouchers being provided in this bill for people facing long waits is costing ~$15B. A wholesale switch would cost hundreds of billions of dollars.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Second thing first...It's a valid issue, but I'm not sure the $10B (+$5B for doctor training and such) for vouchers in this bill is relevant to a larger transition. These are emergency funds (emergency costs are always much more expensive than traditional costs) to deal with the wait-time problems. It's spackle. In a non-emergency voucher transition, the veteran's costs would be paid to a private doctor or hospital rather than the VA institutions. Would the cost be the same? Probably not, it might be more- or less-expensive...but they wouldn't have to wait, and they'd have far more options.

First thing second...I didn't say “wholesale switch” but rather transition. Put current returning veterans immediately on the private voucher system. Let everyone who wants a voucher transition to a voucher. Consolidate, close and downsize official VA facilities according to the lower attendance. Encourage voucher in the holdouts. The VA's been around since the 1930's, a transition will probably take a decade or two.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
What private health care?
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
And we need to stop insisting that the VA be run by a retired General, or a graduate of West Point or some-such. The VA should be run firstly by a heath care administration expert...if he's a veteran, that's nice but not necessary.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Using post-retired flag officers is no guarantee of success in any operation.

The military is (necessarily) a socialist-based construct. And, this is why it is a poor template for social engineering which the left cannot seem to leave alone.

But there were (and are) as many incompetent generals and admirals on active duty as there ever were, as the politicking in said career-fields is ferocious and vicious. The kind of competition is akin to the poker-game and backroom deal-making that makes humans less-than-likable to me.

However, ever since Roman times and before, it's how things are done. It's human nature and as wretched as it is, some good people do come of it. Mostly, though, it's brinkmanship and gamesmanship, move/countermove.

That doesn't translate into administering a large entity like the VA or any corporation. In fact, corporations suffer badly for it and have repeatedly forced themselves into financial ruin by having autocrats at the helm. (See: Eastern Airlines for just one example)

Generals don't get along very well with others. They get their stars by pleasing those above them and by making sure no waves are made to upset the status quo. That is not management; That is oligarchy.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
The VA (medical) should be stripped to an agency that coordinates & refers vets to private healthcare providers, and ensures that veteran care costs are comparable to the private, non-veteran market.

There may have been a use for separate VA hospitals in the post WWII era, when there were millions of vets. But those days are quickly coming to an end. Privatize veteran health care, and let the market do its work.

And don't get me started on the Postal Service.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
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