Tags: MidPoint | VA Scandal | Karen Vaughn | veterans | veterans affairs | hospitals

Veterans Advocate: Vets Suffer as VA Sabotages Reform

By    |   Monday, 16 Mar 2015 04:47 PM

Patient backlogs have only increased since scandalous conditions at U.S. military hospitals came to light last spring, because dug-in bureaucrats at the Department of Veterans Affairs are sabotaging efforts to reform the government-run healthcare system for service members, says a veterans advocate.

"They do not want veterans to be able to seek care outside of the VA," Karen Vaughn, spokeswoman for Concerned Veterans of America (CVA), told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner on Newsmax TV Monday.

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"They have scrambled to make sure this system fails," Vaughn also said.

CVA advocates letting private medicine handle more of the U.S. military's caseload and giving veterans more choices between VA hospitals and outside providers. Last year's emergency VA bill funded some access to private medicine, but Vaughn says it comes with restrictions intended to make it unpalatable.

CVA has itself come in for criticism because of reported financial ties to billionaire industrialists David and Charles Koch, who favor free markets and private enterprise with limited government regulation.

But the issue of choice in military healthcare has taken on genuine urgency since last year's revelations of falsified waiting lists at VA medical centers and appointment backlogs so severe that scores of service members died before getting in to see doctors.

The federal government responded with manager firings, a new VA secretary, billions in additional funding and the rollout of a program, Veterans Choice, giving service members access to more private-sector care.

President Barack Obama on Friday visited the VA hospital in Phoenix at the center of the scandal to give his assessment of the agency's progress, which he described as incremental but steady.

Vaughn blasted the visit as a "photo op," noting that Obama's motorcade drove right past the same hospital in January without stopping. In reality, she said, "We're seeing an all-out halt on moving forward with reform."

"It seems like this administration is doing everything they can to put the brakes on rolling this program out," said Vaughn. "It's all talk. It's no do. And while we're talking, veterans are dying."

The primary obstacle to reform is a bureaucracy that is more concerned with power and money than patient care, said Vaughn, a military Gold Star mother whose son, Navy SEAL Aaron Carson Vaughn, was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2011.

"There are a lot of people who are making a living off of the backs of the veterans in this bureaucracy," she said.

"They're not concerned with veterans' healthcare," said Vaughn. "If they were, we would not have this problem."

Vaughn said that CVA proposals for speeding up the delivery of care to service members have been willfully ignored by the VA and the White House.

Meanwhile, she said, "the status quo continues and the veterans continue to suffer," and the appalling delays that surfaced last year have not abated, but manager bonuses continue to be paid out, and the system is more awash in taxpayer money than ever.

Despite a bigger budget and a hiring spree, "wait list numbers have increased, backlogs have increased, because the true root of the issue is not being addressed," said Vaughn.

"There must be radical reform."

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Patient backlogs have only increased since scandalous conditions at U.S. military hospitals came to light last spring, because dug-in bureaucrats at the Department of Veterans Affairs are sabotaging efforts to reform the healthcare system, says a veterans advocate.
Karen Vaughn, veterans, veterans affairs, hospitals
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2015-47-16
Monday, 16 Mar 2015 04:47 PM
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