Thursday, May 22, 2014

Teabaggers Keep Your Shitty Hands Off My VA

Reprinted from DelawareLiberal, appearing on 5/22, 2014 by ProgressivePopulist

The current uproar over wait times and probable malfeasance and maybe criminal cover ups at some VA facilities being investigated has caused a call for  privatization of the VA health system.  This demand is mostly heard from teabagger Republicans  in Congress.
Some want the VA chief's head on a platter.  Have you really looked at our private health system in the U.S.?  If you have, you'd not be calling for this absurd "solution" to current scheduling and service demand issues.
These same clowns were huge supporters of an unfunded war in Iraq and the travesty in Afghanistan which caused demand for healthcare services to increase from 400,000 to 918,000 veterans, just during President Obama's tenure as our commander in chief.  They've chosen to ignore possible funding needs at the VA just as they chose to ignore paying for Iraq.  Now it's coming back to haunt them.  Or more correctly, haunt our recent veterans and their families who deserve the best our nation has to give.
True, President Obama has succeeded in shoehorning in a 50% VA budget increase, but not without a bloody, shitstorm fight with the congressional teabagger Republicans.   I am not arguing for a one to one increase in the VA budget based on this lopsided demand growth curve.  I am arguing that budget may play a role and must be at the center of solutions discussions.
My own VA experience has not seen this scheduling problem either in Houston or Wilmington.  But, I've got pretty routine aging health issues not requiring much secondary, specialty clinical care like many vets require.  But for sure, compared to my many decades of private health care and career as a hospital marketing consultant prior to my use of the VA for the past 10 years, I can tell you I'm never going back to that three ring circus.
It was and is a circular firing squad consisting of doctors, insurance companies and hospitals.   All fighting for their piece of the profit pie at the patient's expense, literally and figuratively.
When this scandal broke, I took a look at the senior VA leadership in DC.  What I found, not surprisingly, were resume's heavy with military experience.  This is not surprising being the agency serving military veterans.  I found a couple of medical/public health resume's , but shocking to me, no resume's of  senior level leaders with hospital/medical clinic administration backgrounds.  There have been graduate level degrees granted in that field since the 1960's.
This may be a possible explanation for an absence of this type of skilled management oversight from the top and may figure heavily into future solutions to better management at the local, VA hospital/clinic level.   Budget may be a comparatively small part of the solution.
There may be hospital/clinic administration consultants somewhere in the mix at maybe even a senior level, but that is no substitute for in house management expertise and experience to drive operational accountability, particularly in the scheduling and demand management areas of health care.
These are smart and well motivated people at all levels of the VA.  I have confidence they'll sort out the problems and find the right solutions.  They may need a smart congress to help them, at least with funding.  Smart congress?  We can only hope.  And we can send new people there with a few brain cells and in November, I hope we clean up the congressional  shit hole and oust the teabaggers.  That looks to me to be heavier lifting that cleaning up the VA.
(graphic compliments Madeline Kerwick, Corpus Christi, Texas)