VA: Another Set of Secret Waitlists; Vet Info Leaked to Ruin Critic

VA-veterans-affairsITEM: Veterans have charged that in Colorado, too, the notorious practice of secret waitlists was used by Veterans Health Administration managers to present a false and misleading picture of the services provided to vets there.  This is identical to the corrupt practice exposed in Phoenix, Arizona, and like the Phoenix case, it was exposed by a whistleblower.

The St.Louis Post-Dispatch:

[Senators] Johnson and Gardner asked for the inquiry after a whistleblower told them the lists were allegedly used at the Denver VA Medical Center and VA health clinics in Colorado Springs and the Denver suburb of Golden.

The inquiry by the VA’s inspector general also will look into the whistleblower’s allegations that records at the Colorado Springs clinic were falsified after a veteran took his own life while awaiting treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.

Unofficial or secret lists have been used at VA facilities across the country to hide lengthy delays in care for veterans. Forty veterans died while waiting for appointments at a Phoenix VA hospital.

The reason for the secret waitlists seems to have been to manipulate service metrics and fraudulently claim performance bonuses. Since a job at the Veterans Administration, unlike health care for veterans, is an entitlement prized in Washington, no one has been held accountable.

Well, except for the whistleblowers. There’s always a handy cross to which they can be nailed.

A similar story ran in the Denver Post.

ITEM: They Leaked to Harm Him, Now they’re Sorry-not-Sorry. The Post also had another story recently, about the Denver VA’s leak of patient information. The VA, after blowing a vet’s information out to hostile media, admitted it in a snide we’re-sorry-you’re-angry letter from someone with the passive-aggressive name Sallie Houser-Hanfelder.

Houser-Hanfelder, director of VA’s Eastern Colorado Health System, said in a two-page letter to Michael Beckley that while his protected health information “was impermissibly disclosed to the news media, resulting in a privacy breach,” the misconduct was just a gaffe in paperwork rather than malicious.

The underlying misconduct was, well, misconduct:

VA public affairs officer Daniel Warvi told The Post in June 2014 that Beckley, 70, suffered from what Warvi described as severe mental illness. That came as part of the agency’s response to accusations it had mistreated Beckley when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer years earlier.

Beckley said his work as an expert witness in ski-accident lawsuits has nearly dried up.

“As soon as Warvi mentioned mental issues, I was done and that was the end of my career,” Beckley said. “They were trying to defend malpractice by the VA by trying to make me look like a nut, and it worked.”

It’s funny how all this “not malicious” keeps happening to VA whistleblowers and critics, and nothing ever harms a hair on the head (or a buck of the bonus) of the payroll patriots running this thing.

Warvi has not been held responsible. Hoser-Manyletters has not been held responsible. Why would they be? It is the VA: no one is ever held responsible. For anything.

Is it time to disband this thing yet?

15 thoughts on “VA: Another Set of Secret Waitlists; Vet Info Leaked to Ruin Critic

  1. Chris W.

    I’m still waiting for someone to go off like Keith David in Article 99 at one of these places. If I was terminally ill and treated like this by the VA, I’d be damn tempted. Wonder if the bought-and-paid-for MSM would even broadcast anything about it if something like that did happen…

  2. Jeb

    Sounds like there could be an easy case against Warvi for HIPPA violations.

    I’ve been lucky in my experiences with the VA. I hate hearing about shitbags like these.

    1. Hognose Post author

      The sad thing is I do hear frequently from vets who have had positive experiences with their own VA medical care. Especially combat wounded guys. A lot of the vets going to VA are going for routine and geriatric care.

      1. DSM

        Same here, our VA here has been pretty good and my dad likes the one back home. They even helped me get a job on post but before you lump me in with the rest of gub’ment folks, I was an enlisted man so I do worker bee stuff and not one of the GS15 positions written by/for the ring knocker that just retired.

  3. Chris W.

    Had to shake my head at this one – straight from Wikipedia – in reference to the movie Article 99:

    “The film was filmed in Kansas City, Missouri. Many downtown landmarks can be seen in the introduction to the movie and throughout, including the Liberty Memorial. The hospital that was used in the film was known as St. Mary’s Hospital that sat across the street from Liberty Memorial in Kansas City. The former hospital was slated for demolition in 2004, and razed in 2005 to make way for a new Federal Reserve Bank building.”

    Figures that we need to raze hospitals to make more room for bankers…

  4. Alan Ward

    Just two more names of empty headed dbags to be stood up against the wall when the sh!t hits the fan.

  5. James

    I will again as always defend many who work at the VA,docs on down,many really do care as saw this personally and from talking with some friends who are vets.

    Now,is it in many ways a ratfuck that needs a cleansing/change,yes.I would say though before we disband this thing what are the alternatives?Just give vets a insurance card and let em pick were they go/who they see in regards to health seems the best option in my opinion,will be a political war disbanding the VA system but need to have a good alternative before doing that.You have better ideas/thoughts any out there interested in hearing them.

    This affects all citizens as we pay for this system and all have friends/family/neighbors ect. who are vets.

    1. Hognose Post author

      The problem is, as always in an organization, leadership. But it’s complicated by Civil Service and the whole self-licking ice cream cone of Federal personnel regulations, which guarantees that (1) the feces floats into the upper management positions and (2) the usual corrective measures available to a leader for edge cases of misconduct are absent. That means that your edge cases become so blatant that in no time at all, many people who would be entirely productive in a healthy organization are behaving like the edge cases.

      My suspicion is that if you disbanded the whole thing, the competent doctors and nurses would land on their feet, because good medical skills are always in demand. The $300k/yr managers and the $90k unskilled workers would not find that level of support in the market. And that just breaks my heart.

      The vets would do okay. The loss of things like the brain injury program (a friend’s been monitored by that since 1970, decades before I knew him) seems extreme, but I don’t know how you keep a few things like that and still support the massive DC and regional bureaucracy of the VA, which is all the managers really care about. If you put the thing in 12-month run-out and set up something like the Resolution Trust Corporation to zero it out, they could probably place the worthwhile programs with research hospitals in that time.

      If VA was not a quasi-monopoly, you might see the emergence of veterans specialty practices. They would be free to innovate in some of these hard cases.

      1. James

        So,do you think me (not alone by any means or original idea)thought of insurance cards and vets choosing where to go the way?I would think the brain injury program and monitoring could find a place in a bigger specialty that works with brain injury,seems like a regular checkup with a little added to deal with a issue while still small,just like regular checkups for heart/colon cancer ect.

        What needs to be pushed is a system that deals with the demise of VA/not a demise and nothing else in place obviously,just not sure what is best.

        I have no love for the bean counters(am sure a few try to do the right thing and are punished for it)as they screwed me mum and a few other older docs at VA me mum worked at in many ways,really hit her hard after 20 years working in VA.

  6. TRX

    I keep circling around the “bonus” thing. How is it the VA gets bonuses for not doing their job? Why should any Federal employee get *any* bonus for doing their job?

  7. Boat Guy

    My Dad is one of those whose experience with his local VA has been very good.
    As for upper-management; those lamp posts on Constitution Avenus in the District are both strong enough and tall enough if memory serves.

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