The recent problems with the VA continue to grab the headlines daily.
First it was Phoenix, Colorado and North Carolina. More whistleblowers are coming forward every day. Now the most recent report from the inspector general indicates the problems are systemic throughout the hospitals and clinics.
So it comes as no surprise to this veteran and many others throughout the north country that all is not well with the VA. The recent small-sample exit poll at the Watertown VA does not truly cover what’s happening with the system. I will be the first to admit that there has been a dramatic improvement in the quality of care since Humana has taken over for Valor Healthcare. But like anything else, it is relative. If you’ve never experienced anything better, you’re going to appreciate and think what you have is good. I was fortunate enough to have experienced what I believe to be excellent health care at the Newington, Conn., VA hospital. So I would say, although the Watertown Clinic has made dramatic improvements, there is still a lot of room for improvement and many of the problems being uncovered with the system are present at the Watertown clinic.
Difficulty in getting appoints comes as no surprise to me. One of the most disturbing things I found out about this outsourced clinics’ contract is how the patient reimbursement is set up. During my investigation into the poor health care Valor Healthcare was providing, I requested a copy of its contact under the Freedom Of Information Act. To my surprise, I discovered that it was paid a certain amount for the veterans’ first visit during the year and a lesser amount for the second visit and so forth for the third, fourth, etc.
Thus there was a big incentive to see a lot of veterans only once a year. This explained why it was so difficult to get additional appointments. I have not requested the Humana contact but suspect it contains a similar clause. Seriously, does the VA really expect a 90-year-old World War II veteran to see his doctor only once a year?
As for the VA investigating itself, that’s like the fox guarding the hen house. As we’re seeing with the whistleblowers, investigation after investigation turned up nothing until the most recent one. Were they all misrepresenting the facts? Why in this latest investigation has the abuse surprisingly come to light?
While our political leaders continuity tout their support for veterans, most have remained quiet on this latest scandal including our two senators. From President Barack Obama on down, most like to talk the talk when it comes to supporting our veterans. But only a few walk the walk.