Last month a report making allegations of mismanagement of the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Health Eligibility Center (HEC) was published.
The GOP could not find much of significance to blame on the liberals, because if there was they would have exploded in temper tantrums. This is because the GOP is not interested in caring for veterans. It actually seems they care more about “riders” on bills than our vets.
The report was in response to 4 allegations that were leveled against the VHA:
- Did the Health Eligibility Center (HEC) have a backlog of 889,000 health care applications in a pending status? (Yes, and we don’t know how long they’ve been there.)
- Did 47,000 veterans die while their health care applications were in a pending status? (Yes, but we still don’t know how long they waited.)
- Were over 10,000 veteran health records purged or deleted at the HEC? (Yes, but we can’t know why.)
- Were 40,000 unprocessed applications, spanning a 3-year time period, discovered in January 2013. (No. They were accrued in only 4 months, not three years.)
It turns out we treat our veterans worse than we treat unwanted pets. When the current administration began trying to fund veterans services, it found itself against staunch obstructionism by Republicans, who were more interested in leveraging veterans’ legislation to fund pet projects. If they didn’t get their way, they would just block the veterans’ bills, because the gave not one f*ck for any veteran ever.
The GOP actually believes our veterans are too expensive to care for. This is especially disgusting when we can bail big banks and businesses out of their self-inflicted financial nightmares with no questions asked. Veterans bills that do not contain riders are blocked, tabled, or killed by the Republicans. Even when the costs are fully offset, even when the need is dire, the GOP has a track record of denying our vets anything unless their campaign donors or pet projects get something out of the deal, too.
Though the report makes it clear that due to out-of-date and mismatched software, bad management and lack of oversight, there is no way to know how badly mismanaged the applications for VA benefits actually was. It seems that 477,000, or 55 percent of the records from the first allegation had no application date in the record. This means that people could have applied for benefits at any time in the past, and we will not know how long they waited.
Enrollment program data were generally unreliable for monitoring, reporting on the status of health care enrollments, and making decisions regarding overall processing timeliness, … we substantiated the first allegation that ES (Enrollment systems) had about 867,000 pending records as of September 30, 2014. … However, due to the data limitations, we could not reliably determine how many records were associated with actual applications for enrollment.
So even with all four allegations substantiated, the extent of the truth was indeterminable due to the failures tracking and records management. However, there was a common thread among all of these smaller issues. It was one of mismanagement, lack of oversight, lack of modern infrastructure, and lack of proper procedures. In other words, it was a lack of money and a lack of accountability to make the management to ensure they did the job properly.
Even more concerning, were cases such as this one:
A deceased veteran had a blank enrollment status and “locked” record in ES (the enrollment system) until November 16, 2014, when his enrollment status changed to pending. It subsequently changed to deceased on January 20, 2015. However, the veteran died in 1988.
The reason this is completely a Republican problem, is that the current administration has seen unprecedented obstruction throughout its six and a half years. There have been 8 bills which were blocked, tabled or killed that were specifically designed to improve our vets’ lives and care.
One bill alone, by Presidential hopeful, Senator Bernie Sanders (D-Ill), could have made a difference even before this report came out. Want to guess who killed it?
Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-VT) sponsored the bill that would have waived the VA spending cap that was previously established in a budget deal approved by both Congress and President Obama last December. Sander’s office estimated the legislation would have cost $20 billion over the course of ten years.
60 votes were needed to waive the budget rule. 41 out of 45 Republicans voted against it and killed the bill.
This bill called for 27 new medical facilities for our vets and was killed for two reasons:
- A) Republicans destroyed our budget so badly funding the war, that now their only alternative to looking “fiscally conservative” is to deny money to veteran care.
- B) Democrats refused to allow the GOP to tack on Iran sanctions into a bill that had bipartisan support and they need had to pass.
All of these Republican shenanigans happened while, 307,000 veterans died with pending applications.
You can find a list here of 7 Veteran’s bills that the GOP has killed, just during this administration.
One more reason to believe the GOP really doesn’t care about our veterans is the follwing. In 2012 Senator Tom Coburn explained why the GOP killed a 1 billion dollar Veteran’s Bill that may well have helped avoid all of this, as well as funding jobs and education for veterans. He said, “It is important that we don’t do anything that will make it worse for our children and grandchildren.”
Which children? The children of the veterans you won’t care for? Or, the children of the people who would benefit from your latest riders or pet projects that you can use the Title “Veterans Bill”.
You may recognize his name, as he is now infamous for killing a bill in 2014 that would have supported anti-suicide efforts for veterans last year because it was “too expensive.”
With foreshadowing like that, it is not shocking when Tom Coburn and the GOP turns its back on veterans, even even as 22 per day commit suicide.
It is time for the GOP to stop leveraging our veterans to get pet projects and riders pushed through, and it is time for them to stop whining about the cost of caring for the men and women we send to war, period.
Featured Image: Screen Capture