Thursday, May 29, 2014

Barack Obama Did Not Break The Veteran Affairs' Medical System

The VA Healthcare system is broke. The system responsible for providing healthcare for our veterans has managed to make some third world piece meal operations look good by comparisons. While blame for some of the systems inefficiencies and failures lie at the doorstep of the Obama Administration, make no mistake in recognizing the fact the Obama Administration did not break the VA. The VA was broken long before Barack Obama took office in 2008.

The VA's failures are historic in existence over time and party affiliations. The VA has been misfiring through the administrations of presidents as far back as John F. Kennedy and past Congresses whose poor oversight contributed to the problems festering. The VA itself is also responsible for many of its own shortcomings. Red Tape bureaucracy, politics and inadequate management has been a ongoing vice contributing to the system's malfunctioning to the point officials don't know how many vets are even in the system and some patients are alleged to have died waiting treatment.

For instance..

In 1947 A government commission on reforming government found enormous waste, duplication and inadequate care in the VA system and recommended wholesale changes in the agency's structure.

The 1950's found the bloat and inadequate management still present. A second government reform commission again found widespread instances of waste and poor care in the VA system, according to the Independent Institute.

In 1972 Vietnam veteran Ron Kovic, the subject of the book and movie, "Born on the Fourth of July," interrupted Richard Nixon's GOP presidential nomination acceptance speech. He proclaimed,

"I'm a Vietnam veteran. I gave America my all, and the leaders of this government threw me and others away to rot in their VA hospitals." 

In 1974, Kovic lead a 19-day hunger strike at a federal building in Los Angeles to bring attention to subpar treatment of veterans in VA hospitals. Kovic and fellow veterans demanded to meet with VA Director Donald Johnson. The embattled director went to California to meet with the activists, but left after they rejected his demand to meet in the VA's office in the building,

In 1976, the VA got worse. A General Accounting Office investigation into Denver's VA hospital discovered numerous shortcomings in patient care, including veterans whose surgical dressings are rarely changed. The GAO also looked at the New Orleans VA hospital, and found ballooning patient influxes were contributing to a decline in the quality of care there, as well.

Let's examine some VA specifics the emerged under some recent Administrations.

Under President Jimmy Carter, the VA created the Agent Orange registry. The Agent Orange Registry accommodated veterans who were worried about potential side effects of Agent Orange. Four years later the registry's inception a GAO report found that 55 percent of respondents felt that either the VA's Agent Orange examinations were not thorough or they received little or no information on what long-term health impacts exposure could cause.

The VA's lug nuts continued to loosen under the Regan Administration. How soon do GOP finger pointers forget that congressional report from 1990 that found: "The Reagan administration had adopted a legal strategy of refusing liability in military and civilian cases of contamination involving toxic chemicals and nuclear radiation. ... The Federal Government has suppressed or minimized findings of ill health effects among Vietnam veterans that could be linked to Agent Orange exposure." A cover up that undeniably contributed to an influx of veterans into a system ill prepared to treat them.

The Bush administration deployed troops to Iraq and Afghanistan, but were ill prepared when those troops came home injured.
The department under the Bush Administration was publicly counting only about a third of the casualties stemming from the War on Terror. Their count only accounted for service members immediately targeted in the department's wounded-in-action statistics. That accounting method excluded military personnel who were not targeted but were wounded nonetheless, such as troops injured when they were riding two trucks back from one that was hit by a roadside bomb, or those hurt in training or transportation.

Additionally, the VA's claims-processing time increased almost two-fold early in the Bush years. In 2002, it took the VA an average of 224 days to complete claims, as compared with 166 days in 1999.

Armed with the above facts and access to many more, to suggest that the Obama Administration broke the VA is a fallacy of the mean spirited and politically motivated opponents of Barack Obama.

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