“Delay, deny, until you die”

John Boehner

Delay, deny, until you die. That’s what the veterans are saying now.” 

This is how one veteran in Missouri struggling with PTSD described the frustration veterans are experiencing when they go to the VA for care.  

To think that April began with the Department of Veterans Affairs “proudly proclaiming” success in reducing the stubborn backlog of disability claims.

But it looks like they haven’t solved much of anything.

CNN this week reported that many of the 40 patients who died at the Phoenix VA while waiting for appointments were placed on a “secret waiting list.” 

What began as bureaucratic sleight-of-hand – corner-cutting to hide the wait times for hundreds of patients – ended up costing lives.

Military.com has another bombshell: the VA received warnings about appointment manipulating at least two years ago.  A former administrator at the Manchester VA in New Hampshire told Congress in April 2012 that this scheme was going on at hospitals across the country.  “Meeting a performance target, rather than meeting the needs of the veteran, becomes the overriding priority in providing care,” he said.

Why are these performance targets so important?

They determine how much these bureaucrats get in bonuses.  Sure enough, the Phoenix VA’s director received a $9,345 bonus last year – while, according to CNN, she “was well-aware about the actual wait times, knew about the electronic off-the-books list and even defended its use to her staff.”

The VA has some serious explaining to do, and already Veterans’ Affairs Committee leaders are working to get to the bottom of what happened. 

Outrage isn’t enough, of course, which is why Speaker Boehner is leading an effort to pass reforms that would help clean up mismanagement at the VA.    

H.R. 4031, the VA Management Accountability Act, would give the VA complete authority to fire or demote VA Senior Executive Service or equivalent employees based on performance. The idea here is simple: if you’re not getting the job done, you go.  As Speaker Boehner put it: “If you’re presiding over a bureaucracy that’s failing our veterans, you shouldn’t be receiving bonuses.  You should be gone.”

No more of the same old VA.  Let’s make VA accountability a reality and start to turn things around.  

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