America Demands Black Guy Clean Up Big Mess

“Taxpayers get what they fucking pay for” — a VA employee sounds off. Ay fucking men.

Privatization … subcontractors… budget deficit hysteria … I’m so over Republican talking points ruling our discourse.

God, I’m so over this shit. Are we seriously pretending problems with the VA like wait lists and cover-ups are something new? Something novel under the Obama Administration? When we all know the VA has been plagued with issues as far back as anyone can remember? Jesus, we have World War II vets still trying to get benefits after they’re deceased.

2008:

A review of shredding bins at Department of Veterans Affairs benefits offices around the nation uncovered 489 documents improperly set aside for destruction, the VA confirmed on Thursday.

[…]

Gordon Erspamer, a California claims attorney who has worked on litigation against the VA, said the agency has long known it had a problem with improperly destroyed paperwork.

“This has been going on for many, many years,” he said. VA claims workers “are under such intense pressure to process claims quickly that they look for the easiest way to deny a claim. Instead of making a decision, it’s often better to just lose a medical report.”

Erspamer said VA workers have a financial incentive to process claims quickly because they essentially work on a quota system. That, he said, encourages some to “lose” paperwork.

“Tens of thousands of veterans simply die with their claims pending,” he said.

2005:

VA’s red tape squelches veterans’ long-overdue disability claims

There have been some improvements in the last three years. But when it comes to delays, cases that need to be redone and backlogs, things are the same or worse than they were in the 1990s, Knight Ridder found, when the agency vowed to clean up its act.

2002:

VA chief Anthony Principi is fighting two enemies–a huge backlog of claims and barriers to VA health care.

[…]

On one front, he encounters tens of thousands of veterans trying to get into a besieged VA health care system, where waits for service in some portions of the country stretch beyond one year.

On the other front, he finds a huge backlog of claims–more than 490,000 of them–from vets seeking compensation for ailments or injuries they believe are a consequence of military service.

1991:

In a February 6, 1991 broadcast highlighted Sunday on Melissa Harris-Perry, NBC News reported on Vietnam veterans suffering from illnesses they contracted due to exposure to Agent Orange, the chemical used widely during that conflict. The devastating effects of Agent Orange to the men, women, and children of Vietnam were already known, but even in the 1980s, the men who were exposed to it during their tour of service had to fight to get treatment and benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

As I’ve taken time out of my day to read up on this, it appears the issue is quite complex, and merely looking at some numbers and pointing fingers can’t do justice to it. For example, Republicans with an interest in portraying Obama as an incompetent buffoon who doesn’t support the troops because Kenya like to say the VA claims backlog swelled under Bamz (again, Kenya and Muslim and liberal, etc. etc.). This ignores the fact that the backlog grew in the first place because of things like the Nehmer decision, which attributed a whole bunch of medical conditions to Agent Orange exposure, causing tens of thousands of previously decided claims to be refiled.

America, typically, has asked the black guy to clean up the mess. Cue my shocked face.

[UPDATE]:

Some good reporting from Mother Jones on this, however I take issue with the idea that this problem started under the Bush Administration. The problem has been going on waaaaay longer than that. However, it really pisses me off that, just like with the NSA spying scandal, shit liberals were screaming and hollering about 10 years ago is only now getting some attention from the media, like everyone just woke up to something the hippies have been talking about forever. What, you guys wanna talk about how soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan don’t have body armor, too? Jesus, people. Pay attention.

27 Comments

Filed under privatization, Veterans Administration

27 responses to “America Demands Black Guy Clean Up Big Mess

  1. Seeker

    (sarcasm font) Well, gosh, you mean there have been systemic problems at the VA since the Viet Nam War? Thanks, Obama–you and that time-traveling machine you have that allows you to go back in time to practically before you were born just to mess up ‘Murica. (close sarcasm font)

  2. Jim in Memphis

    http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=93227. Obama campaigned on fixing the VA. Is it unreasonable to expect a President to follow up on his campaign promises? Do we really think Obama only found out about this recently? Well at least he is mad about it now along with all the other things he recently learned about and got mad about.

  3. Fuck you, Jimbo, you willfully ignorant prick.

    The GOP has done everything it can, since AT LEAST 1972 to fuck the veterans of every campaign since WWI.

    You, you smug piece-of-shit act as if you have some fucking clue about what actually goes on at the VA. You don’t, shut the fuck up,.

    • Jim in Memphis

      Sorry was that a reply to the fact that Obama campaigned on specifically fixing the VA? Has the VA budget not increased dramatically under Obama? Has he done anything in his 6 years as President to see that the VA actually improved as promised?

      • gene108

        Would be interesting, if there was some reporting on some measurable factors of VA care that could be compared to 6 years ago to see if things have gotten better in general or at specific VA hospitals or if things have generally gotten worse or only at specific VA hospitals.

        It’s very hard to say Obama has failed to improve the VA, if there is no base line to compare the current situation to versus 6 years ago.

        This is what is overlooked in the reporting, in the rush to hysteria and to judge Obama a failure.

      • Well if you listen to Jimbo, everything was perfect under the VA even though for some reason Obama “ran on reforming the VA” which if everything was awesome why would he have done that? Of course, Obama ran on a lot of things, which the Republicans have obstructed, and when he tries to use whatever executive powers he does have to get around them they start shrieking about the “imperial presidency” and “dictator Obama.”

        Since apparently we’re going to have a re-vote of that bill the GOP filibustered back in February which would have funded 27 new VA clinics, maybe the Republicans will be shamed into doing the right thing now.

      • Jim in Memphis

        SB – I never said the VA was perfect before Obama. What I said was Obama promised to work on fixing it, he has known about these problems since his first election, and he has done nothing to address the issue. His response is typical for anything bad that has happened under his Administration – deny knowledge of it, say he is mad, and then promise to study it.

      • That’s utter bullshit, Jim, as usual. You’ve not provided one piece of information to support your contention that Obama “has done nothing” to address these issues. Fuck off. I’m tired of you polluting my blog with your bullshit. I need a break from you.

  4. SFAW

    I believe I saw, recently, on some other blog, that the VA budget has gone up 50 percent since time X (which I think was the start of Afghanistan/Iraq).

    Great. Except that the number of vets needing assistance had gone up approx 100 percent during the same period.

    Before you ask: Went looking for the cite, couldn’t find it.

    • It’s not the number of vets you need to look at, it’s the number of claims. That rate has gone way up because of the previously-mentioned Agent Orange issue (court case which attributed Agent Orange exposure to a whole bunch of new diseases, causing 150,000 Vietnam era claims that had previous been denied to be reissued). Also, new regs making it easier to receive treatment for PTSD, etc.

    • Jim in Memphis

      “Great. Except that the number of vets needing assistance had gone up approx 100 percent during the same period.” Except it hasn’t. The number of vets has dropped about 4.3 million over the last 13 years and CBO reports indicate that the costs of providing healthcare to the younger vets from Iraq and Afghanistan is actually less than the cost of older vets since they are younger and generally in better health at this time.

      http://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/ftpdocs/123xx/doc12315/07-27-va_healthcare.pdf

      From the report:

      “In 2010, VHA spent $1.9 billion to treat 400,000 OCO patients. VHA obligated $4,800 per OCO patient, on average, compared with an average of $8,800 per patient for veterans from all eras who were being treated at VHA.1 OCO veterans are typically younger and healthier than the average VHA patient and as a result are less expensive to treat; indeed, the amount of resources devoted to the average OCO veteran is similar to that devoted to the average non-OCO veteran under the age of 45. Thus, although OCO patients made up 7 percent of the veterans VHA
      treated in 2010, they were responsible for only 4 percent of the total amount that VHA obligated for medical care and research.”

      • gene108

        From your link Jim:

        “VHA expects to obligate $2.4 billion in fiscal year 2011 to provide health care to
        OCO veterans, a real (inflation-adjusted) in
        crease of 24 percent above the $1.9 billion
        it obligated for that purpose in 2010 (s
        ee Table 1). Between 2005 (the year VHA
        began to separately report spending fo
        r OCO veterans’ care) and 2010, the agency
        spent a total of $6 billion (in 2011 dollars) on
        those veterans’ treatment. In real terms,
        the year-to-year growth in VHA’s spending
        for OCO veterans averaged nearly 50 per-
        cent in those years. A large portion of that growth stemmed from rising enrollment in
        VA’s health care system; however, increases in the number of services used per enrollee
        and in the rate of medical inflation above th
        at of general inflation also contributed.
        For example, the use of ambulatory services (such as visits to physicians) per OCO
        enrollee grew by 7 percent or more annually from 2006 to 2010″

        Funding increased by 24 percent, while spending on veterans increased 50%. Even the VA is not immune from the hyper inflation in the health care system.

        Also, from the same link

        ” The number of such veterans (those who have ever used
        the system) has grown rapidly—by upwa
        rds of 100,000 veterans annually—in most
        of the past several years (see Figure 1)”

        I’m not sure what your point is. Use of VA services has gone up. Cost of medical care has gone up, because of medical inflation. Funding has not kept pace with increased costs and demand.

  5. @SFAW:

    The VA currently serves something over 7M veterans at various levels of care, subject to things like whether they were wounded/injured in the line of duty (or if their ailments such as deafness or chemical poisoning are service connedcted); what their financial situation is and other criteria. One thing that doesn’t affect the level of care is how long one served, what grade one held or how brave a soldier you were. I’m sure that there are hero worshippers at the VA (I’ve met more than a few) and there are also people who look at me as being leech because I didn’t get pieces shot off in Vietnam. I actually reserve the same sort of comment for them as I do for Jimbo.

    @Jimbo:

    What part of this:

    “You, you smug piece-of-shit act as if you have some fucking clue about what actually goes on at the VA. You don’t, shut the fuck up,.”

    are you having trouble with understanding?

    Fuck you, troll.

    • Jim in Memphis

      DC – Luckily you are not the arbitrator on who gets to exercise their 1st Amendment rights to speak.

      • Oh, did I say that you couldn’t say anything, Jimbo? I forget some time that unhinged assholez like you think that trolling on a NON-GUMMINT blog is somehow “protected speech”. You are so spectacularly stupid that it boggles the mind at times.

  6. JR in WV

    Every once in a while we get a president who tries to fix the myriad things wrong with thing our government is supposed to do, according to the government itself. Like VA health care. I’m a Vet, 1970-1973 – never overseas, never hurt due to hostile fire.

    But I got hit by a car outside the ship yard, and had a deck-grinder dropped on my head while working over the side refinishing the hull. That one destroyed the hard hat I was lucky enough to be wearing at the time. I was so stunned I never realized that the guy who dropped it had to have done so deliberatly, as it happened during the 3 seconds while my safety-harness was unclipped from the cargo net we were using to work from, which could have gotten me killed.

    Have I ever been to a VA facility? No, I have jobs with health care and use my insurance. Which means I pay out-of-pocket for all the ways insurance avoids paying for all of everyone’s health care.

    At least I didn’t have to pay for the ER work after the sports car mowed me down in Pascagoula MS all those years ago.

    Right wing nut jobs who never got closed to serving in the military than walking by a recruiting station are experts in VA level of care, budgets, and the Vets are super American Heros and deserve only the best. But NO TAXES to pay for anything.

    Which is why vets die waiting for medical care and innocent civilians die when Interstate bridges fall out from under them due to a total lack of maintenance and replacement after the engineered lifespan of the bridges is long past.

    Fuck the Republican Party, its managers, owners and Lords and Masters. Like Mittster, TurdBlossom, the cowardly deserter, and his family and friends.

  7. @Jim-

    How is it that you guys get to have it both ways? To wit: Where are the WMD? Did you support the Iraq War? Did you support the surges? Has anyone on the right taken responsibility for that clusterfuck? Cheney and Rumsfeld out this week calling Obama weak. Why aren’t they on trial for war crimes? Have you ever called for them to be accountable? You know as well as I do that if a legislators performance was measured by his fidelity to his campaign promises not one elected official would pass that standard. Am I on the Left. Hell yes. Am I happy with Obama. Hell no. Is Guantanamo closed? Is Wall Street in jail? Is there a public option under Obamacare? You don’t get to cherry pick. When you do you get called TROLL. Let me join the cacophony. FUCK YOU!

    • Jim in Memphis

      Randy – I agree with you 100% on the Iraq war. Looking back it is obvious that it was a disaster to go into Iraq. Hell I would not have invaded Afghanistan either. I am against using US soldiers on the ground in any foreign country. Use our military to control our borders. If someone attacks us, then the correct response is either economic sanctions or bombing them from a safe distance. We do not need to topple another government or take over land in another country. Make it clear that we can be great friends if you want, we can leave you alone if you want, but if you attack us we will destroy your country economically and/or physically.

      I also agree with you that all politicians lie. That is why i am not a big fan of the Federal government. They have assumed too much power and are spending too much money. Government needs to do the bare minimum to provide safety and infrastructure for all citizens. Government should also be strongest at the local level and only big things like national defense need to occur at the Federal level. Votes for local elections count a lot more since the pool of eligible voters is smaller so local government is more responsive to what the people want.

      • “That is why i am not a big fan of the Federal government. They have assumed too much power and are spending too much money. Government needs to do the bare minimum to provide safety and infrastructure for all citizens.”

        Libertardlicans all want minimal gummint except for cops, firefighters AND a military that can crush any opponent. Yeah, thanks for playin’, Jimbo,; oneathesedays you might figure out that your premise is so deeply flawed that it’s not even wrong–just incredibly fucking stupid.

    • Jim in Memphis

      It is plain that going into Iraq was a colossal mistake. It is my personal opinion that the US should not be sending ground forces into any foreign countries. We do not need to conquer other countries and we are not seen as good guys when we try to go in and fix things we think are wrong. I would suggest that the US Army be used to patrol our borders. Make it clear that our foreign policy is to be friends with those that want to be friends, leave others alone if they want to be left alone, and that if you attack us we will bomb the shit out of your country until you stop attacking us and/or we will use economic sanctions to cripple your economy. Looking back, you can see that Clinton successfully used this policy in addressing issues in Bosnia.

      As for legislators and their ability to tell the truth – I agree that all of them are liars. That is why we need to limit their power as much as possible.

      • “Looking back, you can see that Clinton successfully used this policy in addressing issues in Bosnia”

        So, let’s see all of the comments you made about that from 2002–2008. Go ahead, windsock, we can wait.

  8. Seeker

    Anecdata time; my 70-year-old military veteran father uses the VA for his healthcare because it’s far better than the crappy for-profit insurance his company offers. That’s truly sobering.

    • If we didn’t have the VA nursing home, I’m not sure what we’d have done with my Parkinson’s-afflicted F-I-L. In the rural county where he lived there were no good facilities. The VA nursing home was wonderful, though. Thank God he was a veteran.

      • Laughs at Trolls

        Agreed. I have no illusions that the VA is perfect, but wow, is it ever better than the crappy health plan so many Americans have. My own $1000/month plan made us buy $4000 “connect your care” cards to cover our $4000 deductibles (that is, we have to spend $4000/year of our own money before our $1000/month insurance even begins to start covering the bills), and the connect-your-care company has made it a practice to deny every. single. dr.’s office. bill. sent to them, so we employees have to jump through hoops until our bills get into “review” status, when the connect-your-care folks have 30 days to finally…pay off using the money we had to pay them last December for 2014.

  9. “His response is typical for anything bad that has happened under his Administration – deny knowledge of it, say he is mad, and then promise to study it.”

    Unlike Bushco when no WMD showed up?

    Jimbo, dude; the people who send you here really need to think about bringing in the “ATeam” instead of the A-hole team.

    • Jim in Memphis

      So you did not complain about Bush’s performance as president? You are happy that Obama is doing the same things?

      • Jimbo:

        The guys that are telling you how to frame your arguments? They may be dumber than you, if such a thing is even possible.

        Tell ya what, asshole. Go spend a few weeks volunteering at a VAMC and see the “terrible” care that a socialist gummint deathpanel hospital inflicts on their patients.

        What happened in Phoenix is–if it’s anything near what they’re alleging–very bad. What I find puzzling is why at least two staff physicians (a second one came forward a few days ago) say this has been going on for years and yet they waited until now to do anything about it.

        The GOP’s quick response to blood in the water is pretty amazing when one considers that the Party of Fuck the Vet is responsible for a LOT of the shit that’s wrong with the system.

        “So you did not complain about Bush’s performance as president?”

        Why gosh, yes, Jimbo, I sure as fuck did. What was going on in the VA back then was like something out of a Hieronymus Bosch painting. Wounded soldiers were being warehoused and denied adequate care by both the VA and the military. As of now, the military still has the luxury of dumping its damaged goods, via medical discharges, onto the VA. There is an article in Psychology Today that’s an eye-opener (http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/invisible-wounds/201303/vas-tough-standards-traumatic-brain-injury).

        That says, in part:

        “In 2008, the Rand Corp. did an independent survey of 1,965 service members and veterans. Due primarily to the prevalence of roadside bombs (improvised explosive devices, or IEDs), it estimated that 19 percent of the 1.6 million soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan – about 320,000 soldiers – would come home with possible TBIs.”

        “According to Dr. David Cifu, national director of the VA’s Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Services, about 55 percent of the soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, some 700,000 vets, have sought VA health care, and 7.8 percent of them – about 54,000 vets — have been diagnosed with TBI. By comparison, the VA had diagnosed 834,000 Iraqi/Afghan vets with PTSD as of last year, which is more than the Rand Report projections.”

        IOW, the military has diagnosed a lot more people than the VA has diagnosed. By making the determination that a member has TBI they effectively end their military service and get rid of the problem.

        The VA has dealt with this in a number of ways, not all of them laudable.

        As for the 40 vets “dying before they could see a doctor” that will all be shaking out when the investigators file their reports.

        FYI, Phoenix, AZ has about 25K deaths per year from all causes, so 40 or 400 people dying without it being remarked on is not a big surprise to me.

        IF the people at the top knew about it, they’re as culpable as the middle managers. My guess is that President Obama knew about as much about what was going at the Phoenix VA as you or I did. Now he knows a great deal more and he also HAS PEOPLE WORKING FOR HIM that are actually involved in the investigation. It’s a political bombshell but I doubt very much that the VA is going to stop doing the excellent work that they do every day–much as assholes like you would prefer to see that drain on YOUR income, stopped up.

        How about you? Did YOU ever open your mouth or take to the intertoobz when Bushco was dragging the U.S. into a war that was based on bullshit? If so, please furnish some links we can all look at to check your bona fides.

        Fuck off, troll.