The Wall Street Journal reports.
A White House review of the VA health system points to a culture that has degraded the timely delivery of care and requires a restructuring to improve transparency and accountability.
Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs Sloan Gibson and Rob Nabors, White House deputy chief of staff, told President Barack Obama on Friday that significant further action was needed to address systemic problems.
Six weeks after the president dispatched Mr. Nabors to assess problems within the VA, the president’s aide outlined a long list of issues affecting access to timely care at VA medical facilities.
Mr. Nabors’s work is the latest in a series of reviews and reports issued in the past two months, including those from the VA’s independent inspector general, the Office of the Special Counsel and the VA itself. The new report found what Mr. Nabors described as a “corrosive culture” that affects employee performance and patient care. He added that the Veterans Health Administration structure has “impeded appropriate management, supervision and oversight.”
The review also found that the VA’s goal for scheduling many medical appointments within 14 days is “arbitrary, ill-defined and misunderstood.” That goal had been set in 2011. The VA recently eliminated that 14-day target.
Mr. Gibson praised the report. “We know that unacceptable, systemic problems and cultural issues within our health system prevent veterans from receiving timely care,” he said in a statement.
The White House has scrambled to respond to evidence of widespread mismanagement within the VA and to fill a growing number of vacancies in top posts. An internal assessment also revealed improper appointment-scheduling procedures and efforts to hide long wait times across the VA health system.
Another interim report from the VA inspector general confirms that:
The VA’s independent inspector general office has said it would likely issue in August its full report on its sweeping review of the department. An interim report, issued just days before Mr. Shinseki’s resignation, showed problems throughout the VA. They included employees tinkering with official patient appointment wait times to make them seem much shorter than the actual times veterans were having to wait.
In case you were wondering why this is all happening in the VA health care system and not in the private health care system, it’s because the VA is 100% pure government-run health care, as health care expert Avik Roy explains in Forbes magazine. The VA is not scandal is not some sort of aberration from government-run health care. Long wait times and patient deaths are essential to government run health care, in practice.