Sunday, October 18, 2015

History Repeated on Veterans Waiting for the VA and Congress!

This may sound really bad especially when you think about the fact these are men and women becoming disabled for doing their jobs. The jobs that they know could very well cost them their lives.
VA delays skyrocket in San Antonio
1 in 5 now aren’t getting an appointment for 30 days — or even longer
San Antonio Express News
By Martin Kuz, Staff Writer
October 17, 2015

Delays at the Veterans Affairs health care network based in San Antonio have risen sharply since spring, with one in five patients waiting 30 days or longer for an appointment, the nation’s second-highest rate.

Figures published online by the Veterans Health Administration show that, as of Oct. 1, more than 12,300 patients in the South Texas Veterans Health Care System waited 30 days or more for primary, specialty or mental health care appointments.

The number represents an almost sixfold increase since May, when 2,121 veterans faced comparable delays, and the largest jump of any VA network in the country. The total number of appointments scheduled each month during that span remained relatively flat, averaging 60,116.

Only the VA network in Gainesville, Florida, had a longer wait list at the start of this month, with nearly 14,200 veterans. But that system scheduled more than three times as many appointments as the San Antonio network.
read more here

It only sounds bad if you do not know the history of Congress allowing all of it to happen, over and over agin. The VA was not fixed long before the current veterans came home. There were news reports going back decades but as members of Congress held hearings, showed outrage when the press reported about situations each member of Congress should have been well aware of, they let it all get worse.

These folks are elected to represent their areas of the country to ensure that each and every department of government fulfills their duty and while members of the House and Senate love to complain none of them want to accept responsibility for what they failed to do.
Since President Bush took office, two secretaries of Veterans Affairs have come and gone. Both men promised to make sweeping changes in the veterans' medical system, which just about everybody agrees is broken and overwhelmed. Both of them failed.
VA secretary pledges to cut 5 weeks off wait when Secretary James Peake testified before Congress in 2008.
Peake wants to reduce wait times from roughly 180 days to 145 days by the start of next year. He cited aggressive efforts to hire staff, noting the VA will have 3,100 new staff by 2009. VA also is working to get greater online access to Pentagon medical information that he said will allow staff to process claims faster and move toward a system of electronic filing of claims.

Peake promised to “virtually eliminate” the current list of 69,000 veterans who have waited more than 30 days for an appointment to get VA medical care.
Peake went to Montana and Senator Jon Tester was there listening to what the VA planned on doing for veterans waiting for compensation, appointments as well as what rural area veterans had to deal with.
Peake said the current wait for claims processing stands at 182 days, a wait he called unacceptable. By the end of this year, the VA hopes to have that backlog reduced to 169 days, followed by 145 days by the end of 2009.
Pretty damning evidence when you look back at all the Congress knew and when they knew it leading to things just getting worse over the years. Can our elected official fix anything? When Peake was nominated to head the VA on the heals of Nicholson, this is what veterans were suffering with.
Peake's nomination comes as the administration and Congress are wrestling with the problems facing troops returning home with physical and psychological wounds from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Earlier this month, Bush sent legislation to Congress to restructure the health-care and disability system for U.S. troops wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan by eliminating duplicative bureaucracy and providing greater assistance to families dealing with the long-term effects of their injuries. The proposals are part of a broader effort by the Bush administration to overhaul how wounded service members are treated once they return from war, a project launched after revelations eight months ago of shoddy conditions and paralyzing red tape at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
VA Secretary James Peake denies cover-up of suicide rates The Department of Veterans Affairs is facing accusations that it covered up veteran suicide rates. Two veterans' groups are suing the VA, claiming that veteran suicides are rising at alarming rates, in large part because of VA failures.

The groups suing the VA want the department ordered to improve how fast it processes applications and how it delivers mental health care.

Dr. James Peake, secretary of Veterans Affairs, visited Charleston today to meet with officials from Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center and Medical University of South Carolina. Peake, a former U.S. Army Surgeon General, was sworn in in December 2007.

What has been fixed? Nothing as you can see by the wait time for a first appointment repeated from 2008 and 2015 are the same.

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