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Dismantling Va

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gdsnide

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Dismantling VA

Larry Scott | September 29, 2005

The Senator's aide chuckled rather loudly and said, "What VA? By the time this administration is done there won't be a VA." Our conversation had begun with a discussion of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA's) healthcare budget, and quickly came down to a single, simple point. VA is being dismantled.

Three reasons why the administration would want to dismantle VA immediately come to mind:

VA is a large-scale, publicly funded healthcare system that works: VA works so well it has been used as a model to push the case for nationalized healthcare; something that strikes fear in the heart of every Republican.

Recent studies by the Rand Corporation and the University of Michigan , working with UCLA, prove the point that VA is efficient and provides healthcare that meets the highest standards. If it can work for millions of veterans, it can work for millions of Americans. That concept is antithetical to current administration thinking.

In the aftermath of hurricane Katrina we learned that VA was the ONLY healthcare organization that managed to save ALL patient records. This is because VA uses a computerized system that was backed-up on a regional level and put back online in a matter of hours. Now that system is under attack by Rep. Steve Buyer (R-IN), Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs . Rep. Buyer wants to eliminate regional control of the system under the guise of saving money.

VA is ripe for privatization: And that spells profits for private corporations. The latest move in this direction happened last week on Capitol Hill where the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs approved S. 1182 (see Sec. 10) which would spend money from VA's healthcare budget to study outsourcing jobs of VA healthcare workers. The study, with VA healthcare funds going to private consultants, could cost over $140 million and lead to the loss of up to 36,000 VA jobs. Democrats opposed it, but Republicans pushed it through.

VA is part of BIG government: And that's something this administration abhors. GOP strategist Grover Norquist says he wants the government shrunk down so he can “drown it in the bathtub.” The problem with this is that smaller government means fewer services as well as the much-touted lower taxes. And the jobs that are spared are outsourced and cost more to maintain because private corporations have to build in a profit margin.

So, while the concept of smaller government appeals to many, the economics fall into the “voodoo” category, and the social ramifications spell disaster for those who need the programs that are cut back or eliminated. In fact, smaller government gives less but costs more per person served. And I should remind Grover that 24.6 million veterans won't fit in a bathtub and the ones that do surely WILL drown.

Dismantling and privatizing VA is a big job. But the administration has enlisted like minds to sell the concept to the public.

Last year we had the CARES commission that recommended closing VA hospitals and clinics and urged making VA's primary mission outpatient treatment. All this while the number of aging veterans, especially those from the Vietnam era, demands that more inpatient space be made available at VA facilities.

Then add the wisdom of Dr. David Chu , a DoD undersecretary who said that the government is spending so much money on veterans' benefits that it is hurting the country's ability to fight current wars. Rep. Steve Buyer is pushing for massive changes in VA benefits. The Veterans' Disability Benefits Commission is studying ways to completely rewrite the book on veterans' benefits at the request of the administration.

To add to the above insults, VA has instituted a review of 72,000 PTSD claims that have already been awarded to veterans. Why? To increase their benefits? I don't think so! Also, VA has instituted the Second Signature Required policy for veterans filing claims for conditions that have the highest level of monetary award. Again, why? Again, I don't think so!

While VA represents a lifeline to veterans it is an ideological anchor to an administration that has gone out of its way to portray veterans' benefits as something akin to welfare . This assault on VA and veterans' benefits will not stop. The major service organizations know it, yet all they do is go before a committee and testify that veterans are good guys and deserve benefits, while their dues-paying members are waiting months for treatment at a VA facility or getting no treatment at all.

It's time for veterans to realize that the current administration has failed them. Smaller government and lower taxes are wonderful phrases and paint a glowing picture. But the...

(continued)

reality is much different than the painted picture. VA's chronic under-funding has led to hiring freezes, layoffs and the closing of healthcare facilities. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of veterans are forced to go without healthcare.

Those in Congress who realize this are shouted down and voted down along party lines. Smaller government and lower taxes are obviously more important than veterans' lives. I pray for a change and urge my elected representatives to work for a change.

I don't look forward to a dismantled VA that puts veterans out on the street instead of in a hospital room. But if the administration is successful, maybe we can chat about it while we share Grover's bathtub.

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the goverment are going to screw over the veteran one way or another, I wouldn't trust Buyer any further then I could throw a dead elephant.

CHAIRMAN BUYER HOLDS IT SUMMIT TO ADDRESS

CHANGING TECH NEEDS IN VA

Washington, D.C. - On Thursday, September 29, 2005, Chairman Buyer held a

summit on information technology (IT) with 36 corporations and consulting

firms in attendance to discuss the reorganization of the Department of

Veterans Affairs (VA) IT infrastructure. Chairman Buyer and Ranking Member

Evans, along with other distinguished members of the Committee on

Veterans' Affairs will be introducing the "Department of Veterans Affairs

Information Technology Management Improvement Act of 2005," which will

provide the VA Chief Information Officer (CIO) with authority over budget,

personnel and assets. Companies in attendance offered their suggestions and

commentary on the draft legislation to restructure VA IT authority.

The Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations has conducted six hearings

focusing on VA IT budget requests and programs, and VA's inability to

adequately explain these requests, as well as efforts to eliminate waste,

fraud and abuse. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has stated that

VA has repeatedly failed to properly manage its major IT programs.

VA's IT consultant, Gartner Inc., recently completed its examination of

VA's IT infrastructure and processes, and reaffirmed many of GAO's

criticisms of VA. Specifically, VA's IT budgets vary and there is little

accountability regarding how funds are spent. In addition, there is

considerable redundancy regarding information technology management within

the three respective VA administrations, in the areas of planning, design,

development, acquisition, operation, management or oversight of information

technology and related information resources and services. More important,

there is little to no accountability for information technology management.

"This lack of accountability in VA IT spending must stop" said Chairman

Buyer. "I am concerned that the structure in place lacks the authority and

accountability to provide better service to veterans."

Edited by frosty69
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Guest Jim S.

If they dismantled the VA at the regional level and privatized it, it could come back to bite them.

As it is, the VARO is immune to civil law suites for their mistakes. If you privatise the VARO then you will have to rewrite the law to pertect these none government employees from civil action for their mistakes

Private Dr's would then take the brunt of malpractice suites and I dowbt they would like taking care of more fee restricted patients. It would also be doubtfull these Dr's will be allowed to request and get all the tests needed to properly treat a Veteran.

Hospitals and private care facilites can not staff their facilities as it is now, Add thousand upon thousands of Veterans to the mix and you will probably get a collaps of health care system that has trouble taking care of what it already has under managed care,

Can you see these same Veterans camped out in Washington DC while waiting to be seen by a Dr. If that day comes, I will be one of the first to fly to washington, If I am to be homeless, it might as well be in Washingtom DC as anyware.

When was their a march on washington by several thousand angry Veterans? Not to mention those with extreme psychiatric problems,

Study all they want, but they better consider how the Vet thinks about the whole thing.

Edited by Jim S.
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I would prefer care in a privat hospital insteadof driving 120 miles to a VA hospital. I am TDIU T&P and have been denied Fee basis because a Va hospital can provide the care.

Jim Lane

Jim

They will give you fee basis, but you got to bitch about it, I did and they finally let me go to private doctors. if you have to go to a Doctor, they don't have on staff, or if practical send you to another VA. I have been sent many times to private Doctors, when the VA didn't have that type of Doctors, from Dermanaology,(skin) podiatics, (feet) mental health, nerve doctor and others over the years, pardon the spelling on some of these doctors. The only time when I got sent to another VA, was just recently, when I was sent down to Iowa City, Iowa for back surgery, but not by VA Doctors, they were from the University of Iowa, teacher Doctors, they are on the caliber of the Mayo Clinic Doctors in Rochester, MN, it has only been three weeks from my surgery, and can walk without hardly any pain except for the PN in the legs from Diabetes 2, also getting it in my hands and arms now. The doctors figured the surgery probably wouldn't help my back any, but thanks goodness they were wrong, has I have about half the pain I had before, and cut down on pain medication by half already.

Les(in MN

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