Wednesday's HOT MIC
Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin said at a White House press conference that the VA is "still in critical condition" and needs Congress to expand the program that allows vets to seek private health care options.
Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin said Wednesday that the agency is “still in critical condition” with patients waiting too long for services and a bureaucracy unable to fire poorly performing employees.
Mr. Shulkin, the only holdover from the Obama administration in President Trump’s Cabinet, urged Congress to give the agency more power to discipline employees and expand the Veterans Choice program that allows vets to get treatment from private-sector doctors and hospitals.
Current rules prevent the VA from suspending or firing employees in a timely manner, including a recent case where it took more than a month to fire a psychiatrist caught watching pornography on his iPad while seeing a veteran.
“Our accountability process are clearly broken,” said Mr. Shulkin, a physician.
He said that despite limitation in the law, the VA has moved to purge executives and others for poor performance and mismanagement.
The agency recently fired the medical director and other executives in the D.C. facility and the medical director and three other executive in the Shreveport, Louisiana, facility.
What's needed, of course, is a change in culture. The VA has tolerated and even rewarded employees for incompetence, mismanagement, and other transgressions that would have them packing their bags at any private business.
But ever since the scandal of falsified wait times at the Phoenix VA facility came to light, there has been a progression of VA secretaries who promised to change things and nothing has happened. I don't know if Shulkin is the answer. My feeling is the VA needs someone to kick ass and take names - to put the fear of God into managers and employees. It might result in a lawsuit by employees against the government because their boss is being mean to them. But then, the lesson it would teach VA employees might be invaluable.