Showing posts with label VA privatization. Show all posts
Showing posts with label VA privatization. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Virus spikes throughout the VA...but the VA is helping civilians? Seriously?

Reminder: The VA was not able to keep up with the needs of our veterans, so they pushed to be able to send them into civilian healthcare. Now, with COVID-19, they are sending doctors and nurses to help civilians at the same time they still do not have what they need to take care of veterans! Pay attention people because none of this makes sense and should outrage everyone!

Novel coronavirus cases among veterans spike as testing expands through VA network

ABC News
By Quinn Owen
March 30, 2020
A federal watchdog report released last week found VA hospital supplies of medicine used to treat critically ill patients "may be insufficient."
The number of veterans testing positive for novel coronavirus has spiked to 1,166, the Department of Veterans Affairs reported Monday, as thousands more seeking treatment get tested at VA hospitals across the country.

On Friday, the agency had reported about half as many positive tests. The data from the agency shows that its cases mirror trends throughout the U.S., with VA hospitals in New York, Michigan and Louisiana reporting high numbers of confirmed patients.
Over the weekend, the VA announced it was opening its doors to non-veteran patients in New York City to help ease the coronavirus response burden. The activation is part of the VA's "Fourth Mission," to serve as the nation's emergency back-up health care system.

read it here

Monday, February 24, 2020

Rep. Chris Pappas wants answers on why providers are not being paid for taking care of veterans

As VA works through backlog, NH providers waiting for $134M

New Hampshire Union Leader
By Josie Albertson-Grove
Feb 23, 2020
Rep. Chris Pappas (D-NH) has been working on the issue as chair of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. The committee held a hearing on the reimbursement issue on Feb. 12, and Pappas met with Forrest and local providers in Manchester last Thursday.
Manchester Veterans Affairs Medical Center
New Hampshire Union Leader file photo

MANCHESTER — The VA still owes New Hampshire health care providers an estimated $134 million, as the administration digs out from a backlog of claims.

Kevin Forrest, interim director of the Department of Veterans Affairs Manchester Medical Center, said the delayed payments dated back to a contractor who used to administer the VA Community Care Network program.

The network lets veterans use their VA insurance to pay for treatment outside VA hospitals — from other hospitals and small providers like home health aides, therapists and acupuncturists.

Providers complained of widespread delays and errors in payments last year, and the VA brought in a new contractor to process those claims. But the administration is still working through the nationwide payment backlog.

In the two years since Kathy Twombly’s Laconia acupuncture business has been part of the network, she said the VA has at times left her waiting for as much as $10,000. To make matters worse, the VA has switched contractors three times in two years, she said, meaning the way she files claims keeps changing.
read it here

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

New VA budget the devil is in the details

The headline on is "VA Ramps Up Mental Health Funding After Rash of Parking Lot Suicides" but good time to remember the saying, "the devil is in the details" before you think this is a good thing.
The Department of Veterans Affairs is proposing spending $682 million more next fiscal year on mental health issues, and ramping up funding for suicide prevention efforts by one-third, as it faces Congressional scrutiny over a series of tragic incidents on VA premises over the past year.

The VA's budget request for fiscal 2021, released Monday, totals $243.3 billion -- a dramatic 10% increase from 2020. In addition to resourcing mental health and suicide prevention, it would nearly double the amount of funding for a joint VA-Defense Department effort to create a merged electronic health records system and provide a 9% increase to the budget for women's health care.
Image used by the Army Substance Abuse Program to bring attention to Suicide Awareness Month. (US Army/Michele Wiencek)
And here is the catch
"Despite significant investments in mental health care for veterans -- a top priority for the President, this Committee and VA -- these funds direct resources outside VA into grant programs and the Prevents Task Force instead of being used to explicitly support veterans in crisis at VA," Rep. Mark Takano, D-California, said in a statement Monday.
Plus another one.
Another point of contention with Congress is the electronic health records system (EHR). Designed to combine a variety of health records programs across the VA while also giving the Pentagon a way to transfer in its health records, the roll out has been delayed several times.

The VA's proposed budget would give the EHR effort $2.6 billion - nearly doubling the amount from FY 2020.

How many more much more money will be spent when the results are so terrible veterans have been committing suicide in VA Parking lots?

This is from Connecting Vets
The 10-year endeavor already meant VA had to continue to maintain costly existing programs dating back to the 1970s, and VA leaders told Congress last year they weren’t sure exactly how much it’s cost so far, though the Government Accountability Office said VA spent at least $2.3 billion maintaining the system in 2015-17.

Staff said VA informed them the delay is due to issues with VA’s private network of community healthcare providers “not being ready.”

But after Wilkie dismissed the deputy secretary last week, staff said he told them he did a “deep dive” review of EHR readiness, spoke with leaders at the pilot VA hospital and decided to delay the launch.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen wants answers for New Hampshire providers of veterans outsourced care

New Hampshire health care providers face long waits for VA reimbursement

New Hampshire Union Leader
By Josie Albertson-Grove
December 20, 2019
“If providers can’t trust that they will be paid in a timely manner, then ultimately it is our veterans who suffer as these providers drop out of the network,” Shaheen wrote, “and veterans receive fewer options for care.”

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H. KIMBERLEY HAAS/Union Leader Correspondent

WASHINGTON — At least a dozen New Hampshire health care providers are waiting for payments from the Veterans Administration, according to Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s office. One hospital executive estimated the VA owes about $130 million to providers across the state.

Veterans who get health insurance through the VA do not always get treatment at VA facilities. If a veteran lives too far from a VA hospital, is facing a long wait at the VA, or needs specialized care that their local VA hospital does not offer, he or she can go to another local health care provider. These non-VA providers are known as the Community Care Network. A veteran gets care at one of these providers, and the VA reimburses the provider.

Shaheen’s office has heard complaints from numerous community care network providers across the state about long waits for reimbursement from the VA. Last week, the senator penned a letter to Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie last week, expressing concern about the delayed payments, and the backlog she said had caused them. read it here

Friday, August 9, 2019

Veterans Choice left them over billed by at least $53.3 million at emergency rooms

Thousands of Vets May Have Wrongly Been Billed for Emergency Care
By Richard Sisk
8 Aug 2019
At the start of fiscal 2016, claims backlogged more than 30 days totaled 482,000, or 28% of the total of 1.7 million claims, the report said. However, the backlogged claims had increased to 36% of all claims by November 2018, the report said.
Hospital emergency room sign. Getty Images
Veterans may have wrongly been billed by the Department of Veterans Affairs for emergency room medical treatment at non-VA facilities totaling at least $53.3 million, according to the office of the VA Inspector General.

Following an audit, the IG estimated that "about 17,400 veterans, with bills totaling at least $53.3 million, were negatively affected" by either initial denial or ultimate rejection of their claims for reimbursement.

The IG also estimated that that "if corrective actions are not taken, these errors could result in $533 million in improper underpayments to claimants over five years."

The IG's 70-page report, titled "Non-VA Emergency Care Claims Inappropriately Denied and Rejected," said the reimbursement issue rested with the VA's Claims Adjudication and Reimbursement Directorate (CAR) in the VA's Office of Community Care.
read it here

Monday, July 22, 2019

New Hampshire VA urgent care cutting hours? Seriously!

New Hampshire veterans hospital scales back clinic hours

Associated Press
Michael Casey
July 17, 2019

This move comes as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs presses for the use of urgent care clinics nationwide as part of the Mission Act that went into effect last month. Critics have expressed concerns that offering more private care could undermine veterans services.
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — The urgent care facility at New Hampshire's only veterans medical center is reducing its hours, forcing veterans to go elsewhere to get treatment in the evenings and overnight.

The Manchester clinic now offers around-the-clock care but after Aug. 30, it will only accept walk-ins from 8 a.m. to 4:30 a.m. daily. If an eligible veteran needs urgent care outside those hours, center director Alfred Montoya said there are nine other clinics around the state they can go to.

That list is expected to grow.

This move comes as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs presses for the use of urgent care clinics nationwide as part of the Mission Act that went into effect last month. Critics have expressed concerns that offering more private care could undermine veterans services.

But Montoya said the move is welcome, and part of an effort to offer even more health care services. The urgent care facility will relocate to a stand-alone building connected to the center. Mental health services will also be offered there.

"This is not privatization," he said. "This is expansion of services, modernization of service in a data-driven, patient safety focus that really brings it all together."
read it here

Friday, June 21, 2019

POTUS renewed John McCain's choice for veterans healthcare

POTUS takes credit for McCain's biggest mistake?

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
June 21, 2019

While POTUS takes credit for the Veterans Choice Act, he ended up taking credit for one of the biggest mistakes John McCain made. Yes, it was something that Senator McCain pushed for a long time. He managed to pull off pushing to get veterans into the private hell all of the other elected members said was so bad for citizens back when he was running for the presidency.

McCain sells out our vets
The Nation
“We should give them freedom to choose to carry their VA dollars to a provider that gives them the timely care at high quality and in the best location,” McCain has said. AFGE sees it as a backdoor attempt to undermine, or even destroy, the VA. According to Phillip Longman, a senior fellow at the New America Foundation and an expert on the VA, such ideas aren’t always inappropriate (disclosure: in 2006 I worked at NAF, where I provided research assistance to Longman and others). Private services, he says, can in some cases be essential to veterans in underserved communities. “But his idea shows just how uninformed [McCain] is about veterans and the VA. Veterans who are already in the system don’t want to get out,” Longman says. “Every veteran who moves from the VA system into the private system will find it more dangerous and more costly.” And there are additional concerns. AFGE points to incidents like the ones in Hayward and Rice Lake, Wisconsin. Last summer veterans facilities in those cities outsourced the operation of their clinics to a private firm, Corporate Health and Wellness. Within a few months the company, citing major financial losses, jumped ship, leaving veterans in search of care locked out for weeks.
Then followed thru with this.
Veterans' Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act of 2014
Most advocates make the point that our veterans pre-paid for their care when they became wounded and disabled serving the nation. Treating them... subjecting them to the same system the rest of us deal with is heartless neglect of those who made us a promise, delivered on it, and then they were betrayed when it came time to care for them.

So now you know how far back this goes and how sickening it is that members of Congress just said, veterans did not deserve their own care, this is what POTUS claimed...even though as you just read, John McCain started it all and Obama signed the first bill to do it.

The Hill reported this
President Trump at his 2020 campaign kickoff rally on Tuesday took credit for passing a veteran's health care bill that was signed into law by former President Obama. "We passed VA Choice," he said, referring to a bill that allows veterans to seek health options outside the Veterans Affairs-run system. "You go out now, you get a doctor, you fix yourself up, the doctor sends us the bill, we pay for it. And you know what? It doesn't matter because the life and the veteran is more important, but we also happen to save a lot of money doing that.""They've been trying to get that passed also for about 44 years," he added.
But he had the same speech last year too.

Donald Trump: GOP just passed veteran's Choice after 44-year wait. Actually, it's 4 years old

President Donald Trump has been barnstorming for Republicans in the midterms. On Oct. 1 he landed in Johnson City, Tenn., to help U.S. Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn, covering familiar ground about the improving economy.
He touted securing $716 billion for the military, and he gave Republicans credit for giving veterans a new health care option.

Monday, April 8, 2019

"Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" or worth billions?

Why can't veterans trust members of congress?

No need to think too hard on this one. Considering there was a time when no member of Congress really wanted to serve on the Veterans Affairs Committee before it was turned into a money maker for anyone who can profit off their suffering, it is everyone's game now.

To think, these con-artists actually think they can get away with subjecting veterans to deplorable conditions by failing to fix the problems at the VA just for the sake of their rich buddies and fat retirement funds. 

Why else would they be pushing to turn your care over to for profit companies instead of making sure you got the best care possible at the VA?

Read this story from NPR back in 2016 and see what he was up to back this,
SIEGEL: Ten billion dollars put into Veterans Choice, and there are now more vets waiting for care than before. What do you do now? What's next? What happens?
MILLER: We continue to work with the department, with the secretary, with the veterans service organizations that are out there. I believe that many folks now accept the fact that Choice is going to be here. I think it's going to take some time. I mean, nobody expected this to be resolved overnight. You can go back and check the transcripts of most of the interviews, and nobody thought that it was going to be resolved immediately.

Hell, people like Jeff Miller could have saved a lot of lives and caused a lot less heartache had he not been more focused on his own retirement while he served as head of the House Veterans Affairs Committee. Now we know why!

The Congressman Who Turned the VA into a Lobbying Free-For-All

April 04, 2019

Jeff Miller helped open up the VA to private contractors. Now he’s out of office and lobbying for those businesses.

The Indian Treaty Room is a grand two-story meeting space in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building next to the White House, with French and Italian marble wall panels, a pattern of stars on the ceiling and the image of a compass worked into the tiled floor. Over the years, it has hosted signing ceremonies for historic foreign policy pacts such as the Bretton Woods agreement and the United Nations Charter.

On Nov. 16, 2017, it hosted a different kind of gathering: an intimate meeting called by the White House to discuss the future of the Department of Veterans Affairs. In the 10 months since Donald Trump had taken office, his administration had been pushing a bold and controversial agenda to privatize more of the VA’s services.

The Trump administration’s ambitions are well documented. But what has not been publicly revealed until now is the extent to which the VA—a sprawling agency with a $180 billion (FY2017) annual budget that includes the nation’s single largest health care system, a network of cemeteries and a massive bureaucracy that administers the GI Bill and disability compensation for wounded veterans—has become a massive feeding trough for the lobbying industry.

The VA’s then secretary, David Shulkin, was at the previously undisclosed meeting, along with a contingent of conservative thinkers on veterans policy, including current and former members of Concerned Veterans for America, known as CVA, an advocacy network largely backed by conservative donors Charles and David Koch. Also present were “Fox & Friends” host Pete Hegseth, a former CVA executive repeatedly floated to be Trump’s pick for VA secretary, and David Urban, a right-leaning CNN commentator who served as a senior adviser on the Trump campaign.

According to emails obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, the group drafted a strategy to “echo/amplify” Trump’s “priorities/initiatives” for accelerating the privatization process. According to three people who were there, the participants discussed how best to respond to expected resistance from traditional veterans advocates, who historically have opposed privatizing key agency services. Representatives from “the Big Six” major veterans organizations, including the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars, were not invited.

But it was the presence of the most powerful lobbyist for the companies now trying to get a piece of the VA’s budget—a tan, affable Floridian named Jeff Miller—that would have raised the most eyebrows, had his attendance been known at the time.
As the head of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Miller helped write the very privatization legislation that opened the door to his lobbying operation. As an early Trump backer and a name repeatedly floated as a potential VA secretary, Miller personally shaped the president’s policy; he drafted the Trump campaign’s 10-point veterans policy paper, largely based on proposals he was unable to pass in his time on the Hill. (Moran said Miller also has communicated directly with Trump “on occasion” since joining McDermott.)
read more here

Sunday, January 13, 2019

How it became OK to push veterans out of the VA!

Time for Congress to investigate how it became OK to push veterans out of the VA!

There was a times when taking care of the veterans who became disabled after serving this country, was a sacred duty for the rest of us. There was a time when Presidents and other politicians promised the best care this country could provide for them, because they understood, veterans were prepared to die for this country.

Then came a time when they were no longer ashamed they failed to fulfill their end of the duty and veterans suffered. More promises and more pointing fingers, while veterans suffered.

More years and more suffering has brought us to their repulsive conclusion that they now should be treated like all other citizens and the debt we owe to them no longer matters, has taken over the soul of this Administration.

The VA is an obligation to this nation! It is not something that can be sold to away. 

V.A. Seeks to Redirect Billions of Dollars Into Private Care

New York Times
By Jennifer Steinhauer and Dave Philipps
Jan. 12, 2019

WASHINGTON — The Department of Veterans Affairs is preparing to shift billions of dollars from government-run veterans’ hospitals to private health care providers, setting the stage for the biggest transformation of the veterans’ medical system in a generation.

The Rocky Mountain Regional V.A. Medical Center in Colorado. President Trump made reforming veterans’ health care a major point of his campaign.CreditCreditDan Elliott/Associated Press
Under proposed guidelines, it would be easier for veterans to receive care in privately run hospitals and have the government pay for it. Veterans would also be allowed access to a system of proposed walk-in clinics, which would serve as a bridge between V.A. emergency rooms and private providers, and would require co-pays for treatment.

Veterans’ hospitals, which treat seven million patients annually, have struggled to see patients on time in recent years, hit by a double crush of returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and aging Vietnam veterans. A scandal over hidden waiting lists in 2014 sent Congress searching for fixes, and in the years since, Republicans have pushed to send veterans to the private sector, while Democrats have favored increasing the number of doctors in the V.A.

If put into effect, the proposed rules — many of whose details remain unclear as they are negotiated within the Trump administration — would be a win for the once-obscure Concerned Veterans for America, an advocacy group funded by the network founded by the billionaire industrialists Charles G. and David H. Koch, which has long championed increasing the use of private sector health care for veterans.
read more here

They have Trumps ear but will we prove we have veterans' backs?

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Mar-a-Largo Business Buddies Documents Not Being Released

VA won’t turn over documents related to outside businessmen’s influence on department policy
Military Times
By: Leo Shane III
26 minutes ago
President Donald Trump, left, accompanied by then Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, center, hands his pen to Isaac "Ike" Perlmutter, CEO of Marvel, right, after signing an executive order on accountability at the Department of Veterans Affairs on April 27, 2017. (Andrew Harnik/AP)
WASHINGTON — Veterans Affairs officials are declining to give members of Congress documents related to accusations that outside businessmen are unduly influencing department policy, citing legal ongoing disputes over the issue.

In response, the ranking member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee blasted the move as “an attempt to stonewall not only a member of Congress but the American public.”

At issue are concerns raised by a ProPublica report earlier this summer that identified three businessmen — Marvel Entertainment CEO Ike Perlmutter, primary care specialist Dr. Bruce Moskowitz, and attorney Marc Sherman — as key architects of a host of veterans policy decisions by Trump’s administration.

None of the men hold official government positions, but all three are confidants of Trump and members of his exclusive Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. Documents released by the news organization show frequent contact between the men and top VA officials last year, including discussions on policy matters and personal favors.
read more here

Saturday, September 8, 2018

VA billed double more than 250,000 times!

This is what happens when disabled veterans are treated like their care is not due to the service they gave to this nation!!!!

Double-Billing for Private Care Cost VA $101 Million, IG Finds 
Richard Sisk 
September 8, 2018

The double-billings by Health Net and TriWest cost the VA $66.1 million in overcharges, and three other types of accounting errors by the two contractors cost $35.3 million, for a total of $101.4 million in losses to the Department of Veterans Affairs, the report said.
U.S. Senator Jon Tester talks about his VA Mission Act last May on Capitol Hill. The bill, which would replace the VA Choice program, was passed by Congress but has yet to be funded. (U.S. Congress/Ann Strausse)
More than 250,000 double-billings by medical contractors for private care in the Department of Veterans Affairs' Choice program -- and other accounting errors -- cost the department $101 million in overcharges from March 2016 through March 2017, a VA Office of Inspector General audit found.
During that one-year period, 142,493 duplicate payments were made to Health Net Federal Services and 111,148 to TriWest Healthcare Alliance Corp., for a total of 253,641 duplicate claims out of 4,758,759 medical claims submitted, the audit, released Thursday by the IG's office, revealed.
read more here

And now that POTUS keeps pushing to make sure even more veterans get into the hands of these profiteers, there will be even more veterans betrayed for bucks!!

Sunday, August 19, 2018

When rich guys meet to take over the VA, veterans lose

Bush VA chief: It’s ‘astounding’ that outside advisers are influencing VA from Mar-a-Lago 
The Hill 

A former head of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is expressing concerns over a report that a trio of allies to President Trump who do not hold government positions are affecting hiring at the agency.
Anthony Principi, who served as VA secretary under former President George W. Bush, told Stars and Stripes this week that he found the report of alleged influence by members of Trump's private Mar-a-Lago club "astounding." 

“If these [Mar-a-Lago] assertions are true, I don’t think that’s good governance. It’s not the way the nomination and appointment process should work," Principi said. 

ProbPublica reported earlier this month that three high-profile men — Marvel Entertainment chairman Ike Perlmutter, West Palm Beach doctor Bruce Moskowitz and Washington lawyer Marc Sherman — were interacting with VA officials almost daily and meeting with them at Trump’s Palm Beach, Fla., resort. read more here

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Now we know why disabled veterans still suffer

The Shadow Rulers of the VA
By Isaac Arnsdorf
8 Aug 2018
At times, Perlmutter, Moskowitz and Sherman have created headaches for VA officials because of their failure to follow government rules and processes. In other cases, they used their influence in ways that could benefit their private interests. 

A June 21, 2013 file photo of the Veterans Affairs Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)
Last February, shortly after Peter O’Rourke became chief of staff for the Department of Veterans Affairs, he received an email from Bruce Moskowitz with his input on a new mental health initiative for the VA. “Received,” O’Rourke replied. “I will begin a project plan and develop a timeline for action.”

O’Rourke treated the email as an order, but Moskowitz is not his boss. In fact, he is not even a government official. Moskowitz is a Palm Beach doctor who helps wealthy people obtain high-service “concierge” medical care.

More to the point, he is one-third of an informal council that is exerting sweeping influence on the VA from Mar-a-Lago, President Donald Trump’s private club in Palm Beach, Florida. The troika is led by Ike Perlmutter, the reclusive chairman of Marvel Entertainment, who is a longtime acquaintance of President Trump’s. The third member is a lawyer named Marc Sherman. None of them has ever served in the U.S. military or government.

Yet from a thousand miles away, they have leaned on VA officials and steered policies affecting millions of Americans. They have remained hidden except to a few VA insiders, who have come to call them “the Mar-a-Lago Crowd.”

“On any veterans issue, the first person the president calls is Ike,” another former official said. Former administration officials say that VA leaders who were at odds with the Mar-A-Lago Crowd were pushed out or passed over. Included, those officials say, were the secretary (whose ethical lapses also played a role), deputy secretary, chief of staff, acting under secretary for health, deputy under secretary for health, chief information officer, and the director of electronic health records modernization.
Moskowitz and Sherman helped Perlmutter convene a council of health care executives on the day of the Trump-Perlmutter photograph, Dec. 28, 2016. Offering more private healthcare to vets was a signature promise of Trump’s campaign, but at that point he hadn’t decided who should lead an effort that would reverse the VA’s longstanding practices.
read more here

Saturday, August 4, 2018

The Cohen Veterans Network shutting down clinics?

Hedge Fund Billionaire Steve Cohen Is Spending Big to Help Veterans. Why Are People Angry?
August 3, 2018

The story of the Cohen Network illustrates what could lie in store for veterans as Trump pursues his campaign pledge to place their care in the hands of the private sector.
The network’s original clinic, at New York University, got into a spat over who would own the patent rights from research that Cohen funded. And shortly after the hearing, Cohen mounted an aggressive lobbying campaign to get the government to subsidize the clinics.
Steven Cohen on the trading floor at Point72 Asset
Management in 2016.
Gillian Laub

But at that same moment, across the country, the Cohen Network was closing its clinic in Los Angeles less than a year after it opened. The Cohen Network’s leaders had alienated the staff there, former employees said, by telling them to prioritize healthier patients over homeless veterans. The shutdown was so hasty that former therapists said it left some patients in the lurch.

This article is a collaboration between Fortune and ProPublica, a nonprofit investigative news organization.

At a House hearing last year on post-traumatic stress disorder, a private organization showed up with an ambitious plan to help suffering veterans. The Cohen Veterans Network was opening a chain of free mental health clinics across the country, backed by $275 million from hedge fund billionaire Steve Cohen.

By contrast to the high-profile scandals at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the Cohen Network claimed 96% client satisfaction. In a statement for the hearing, the organization said its clinics “provide a desirable alternative” to the VA—a clear echo of President Trump’s campaign promise to let veterans skip the VA for “a private service provider of their own choice.”
read more here

Monday, June 18, 2018

Veterans in rural areas screwed out of care for PTSD

President Trump loves to say that his administration is giving veterans a choice on their care. For some strange reason, veterans would rather have the VA to be there for them.

This was on the Huffington Post and it shows what veterans are expected to merge into! A system that cannot even take care of the civilians. The difference is that the Congress is responsible for the way veterans get, or are denied, their healthcare.

Remember, these veterans became disabled serving our country. This is the equivalent of turning their backs on our veterans!!

And now you may have  a clue as to why this "Choice" thing is shafting veterans. 

Rural areas have the highest suicide rate and the fewest mental health

There isn’t a single psychiatrist in 65 percent of nonmetropolitan counties, and there’s no psychologist in almost half of them.
Rural areas have the highest suicide rates, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as a high concentration of veterans, who experience higher rates of suicide than nonveterans. Rates of drug overdoses in rural areas have surpassed those in metropolitan areas. There are also more elderly people, who are often socially isolated and at risk for depression, said Ron Manderscheid, executive director of the National Association for Rural Mental Health.
Elderly veterans are the majority of veterans committing suicide! 65% are over the age of 50!

So, if you're a veteran and live in a rural area of the country, the government told you that the VA cannot help you, so you have to go to a private practice. Oops! Did they think of checking on that one first?

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Make sure members of Congress give their benefits up first!

It is no secret how I feel about politicians. One huge reason why I do not post on any of them, is none of them have lived up to what this country deserves. It makes it worse, when they do not live up to what veterans deserve!!!

I am limited on what I want to say at this moment, so, unlike most of my rants, it will be very short and simple.

The next time you hear any politician talk about doing harm to our veterans, by cutting their benefits, raising co-pays, taking about sending them into the private healthcare system the rest of us have to deal with, basically disrespecting the fact these veterans were made promises for their service, remember this.

When members of Congress, with the authority over the VA, fail to do their duty, they still get to retire with full benefits they were promised. They get their healthcare taken of. It would take an act of Congress to take away anything from them. 

Why should they reward themselves after betraying our veterans? Privatizing the VA? Cutting benefits from older veterans? Increasing fees? Decreasing coverage for Medicare and Medicaid? Cutting Social Security?

If they try to cut anything from our veterans, make sure members of Congress, including those who retired, give their benefits up first!

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Debunking the Debunking on VA Privatization

Debunk the FUBAR
Combat PTSD Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
April 7, 2018

Let us venture into this claimed "debunking" by the Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee and debunk the FUBAR!

In 1998, VA’s budget was $42.38 billion. Considering that WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam and the Gulf War were over, Congress didn't seem to be too concerned about two more wars adding more disabled veterans into the system. 

Gee, do you think they would have planned for them when they sent them?

We had aging veterans seeking healthcare from the VA, some for the first time even though they had service-connected disabilities, some were too poor to pay for their care while not connected to their service, and the newer veterans being offered free healthcare for the first 5 years after discharge.

Report from the DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS, June 2, 1998
It operates
173 medical centers, 39 domiciliaries, 376 outpatient clinics, 131 nursing home care units, and 205 Vietnam Veteran Outreach Centers in the United States, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the Republic of the Philippines, and provides for similar care under VA auspices in non-VA hospitals and community nursing homes and for visits by veterans to non-VA physicians and dentists for outpatient treatment. It also supports veterans under care in hospitals, nursing homes, and domiciliaries operated by 35 States.
These charts from the National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics will show the increase in the number of veterans in the system.

This is the background on the "Choice and Accountability Act of 2014"
$10 billion fund from which VA must pay for non-VA care furnished as part of the Choice Program. VA will provide a Choice Card to all Veterans who were enrolled in the VA health care system as of August 1, 2014, and to recently discharged combat Veterans
Military Times reported in 2017, the "Choice Program" was running out of money.
The program balance dropped from $2 billion at the start of March to less than $850 million this month. 
As a result, VA officials are asking to move around money from other outside care programs to cover the Choice program, the opposite problem lawmakers anticipated when they passed the extension. Committee ranking member Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., called the news upsetting. 
"For this to happen this late in the game is frustrating to me," he said. 
The news came as Shulkin presented Trump's plans for a $186.5 billion VA budget for fiscal 2018, nearly a 6 percent increase from current funding levels. The VA secretary said that includes $13.2 billion for outside care programs next year, a figure he says should be sufficient to meet department needs. 
So, while you will read about how much more money the VA is getting, consider how much of that money is going into the "Choice" veterans did not want to have to make...because Congress did not do their jobs after all these years!

Debunking the VA Privatization Myth
April 5, 2018

There is no effort underway to privatize VA, and to suggest otherwise is completely false and a red herring designed to distract and avoid honest debate on the real issues surrounding Veterans’ health care.

Facts Debunk the Privatization Myth: A Two-Decade Comparison

In 1998, VA’s budget was $42.38 billion.

VA’s 2018 enacted budget is more than four times that figure at $188.65 billion. In 1998, VA had 240,846 employees.

As of March 29, 2018, VA had 385,233 employees, a nearly 60 percent increase in 20 years. VA has increased its end strength by nearly 15,000 since the beginning of the Trump administration, from roughly 370,000 to 385,233 as of March 29, 2018. In 2000 VA had 1,110 medical facilities.

Today, VA has 130 more medical facilities, for a total of 1,240.

VA Community Care Has Existed for More Than 70 Years, and Has Nothing to Do with Privatization

VA has been offering community care since the World War II era, starting with the then-Veterans Administration’s Hometown Program that began in 1945.

As former Secretary Shulkin said, "No health care provider delivers every treatment under the sun. Referral programs for patients to get care through outside providers (known as Choice or Community Care at the VA) are as essential to the medical profession as stethoscopes and tongue depressors."

Currently, VA operates seven distinct community care programs. VA is working with Congress to merge all of VA’s community care efforts into a single, streamlined program that’s easy for Veterans and VA employees to use so the department can work with Veterans to coordinate their care with private providers when VA can’t provide the care in a timely way or when it’s in Veterans’ best medical interest.

The fact is that demand for Veterans’ health care is outpacing VA’s ability to supply it wholly in-house. And with America facing a looming doctor shortage, VA has to be able to share health care resources with the private sector through an effective community care program. There is just no other option and, once again, VA has offered this solution since the World War II era.

The Bottom Line on the Privatization Myth

"If we’re trying to privatize, we’re not doing a very good job,"..."We’ve gone from 250,000 employees in the VA in 2009 to 370,000 employees, and we’ve gone from a $93.5 billion budget to what the president’s asked this year is $198 billion. It sounds like we’ve been an utter failure if we’re trying to privatize." 
– House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Phil Roe

On the last part, he got that one right! They are utter failures on taking care of veterans~

President Obama allowed Congress to start this mess, instead of making sure that everyone knew how disgraceful this response to the needs of our veterans was!

Add this to that part.

Roseburg VA Interim Director Dave Whitmer believes it would be safer for patients suffering nighttime medical emergencies to visit their nearest non-VA hospital instead. He said the VA does have highly trained emergency doctors on staff overnight, but because there are fewer ancillary services during those hours, the nighttime emergency department functions more like an urgent care than a hospital.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Veterans are not worth keeping promises to?

 POTUS giant "F" you to veterans
Combat PTSD Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
April 4, 2018

I was actually terrified of Donald Trump becoming President. Not for the reasons most people had. It was for the same reason I was terrified that John McCain would become elected to the office. 

When I was growing up, my Mom asked me how many battles I was fighting. Then she asked me how many I was winning. When I said I lost all of them, she gave me a wise piece of advice. "Pick on and stick with it!" My battle has been for veterans. After all, I am the daughter of a Korean War veteran, niece of WWII veterans and wife of Vietnam veteran.

The VA has been part of my life, all my life. I have seen the best it can do and the problems that come because Congress has consistently failed to live up to their end of the deal on men and women risking their lives in the military. Yes, I blame Congress. That is why when I hear someone wanting to hold the office of Commander-in-Chief utter the words "privatization of the VA" my heart stops!

Think about it. Who the hell would proudly say they regard veterans just like every other civilian? After all, isn't that what they are actually saying? 

I guess it is suddenly nothing to be ashamed of. The same folks we elected, managed to screw up our healthcare, and now these same folks, who allowed the VA to be trashed, have the audacity to even suggest veterans should be treated like everyone else?

Members of Congress have had the authority over how are veterans are treated since 1946! Any problems veterans still have are directly THEIR FAULT~ but they fail to offer a single apology for what they have done. 

Did he forget they got disabled serving this country in the military?

"Dubbed the Caring for Our Veterans Act, the bill eliminates requirements that veterans must have waited longer than 30 days for an appointment or live farther than 40 miles from a VA facility to seek private care. Instead, it opens that door directly if veterans and their providers decide together that community care is the best option."
And now you will know why!
"So why hasn't the measure become law? The bill lacks backing from the Koch-backed group Concerned Veterans for America — which has lobbied hard against it — and, perhaps for similar reasons, the White House. Advocates had hoped to get the bill included in the massive spending measure Congress passed last month, but in the end didn't succeed."
That came from the Washington Post!

The VA is a government operation and has plenty of money. I guess these folks think it is OK to kill off the VA no matter how many veterans get hurt in the process. It must be OK to slap them in the face and then expect them to say "thank you" instead of another word that starts with "F" you! Sorry but I'm thinking "forget" and not the other word...hmm, on second thought.

Now maybe you'll know why I am so angry in a show that was recorded last week before the Secretary of the VA was dumped on Twitter. You can hear it on KLRN Remember the Fallen with one of my buddies Sgt. Dave. We had a lot to cover but, well, lets just say I was not in a good mood about any of this. It is on at 8:00 Thursday.

In a way I am glad it was recorded before this happened. I think I'd get bleeped out way too much if we recorded it this week.