That is for this year alone! And the VA now has a case-processing backlog of a staggering 344,000! And just what benefits have been delivered to America by almost a decade and a half of Bush/Obama foreign entanglements? Sadly the outcome has been no different than was the case with Korea and Vietnam. And now the War Dogs are beating the drums over the Ukraine, yet another instance where America’s national security interest is not at stake.
Here Cato Institute’s Doug Bandow supplies the deadly facts on the VA’s abuse and mismanagement. The same entrenched Washington insiders who brought America the unconstitutional Iraq and Afghan wars are responsible for the ongoing national disgrace at the VA.
Caring for veterans isn’t cheap. Promiscuous war-making over the last decade has generated an influx of patients, many with debilitating injuries. This year VA is expected to spend roughly $151 billion.
The government has a solemn duty to care for those injured in war. Yet VA estimated that it has a case-processing backlog of 344,000. On average it takes vets 160 days to become eligible for benefits.
After being declared eligible vets had to wait an average of 115 days for a primary care appointment at the VA’s Phoenix facility. As many as 40 vets may have died waiting.
The IG found such practices to be “systemic.” In numerous communities VA employees apparently manipulated data and falsified reports to hide patient deaths as well as delays.
However, the more basic problem is rationing care to meet budget targets. The agency is short hundreds of primary care physicians. The pharmaceutical formulary has roughly one-third of the drugs available to Medicare patients. Available psychiatric services have declined in recent years.
Unfortunately, better management alone cannot fix the agency’s problems. In 1994 former Rep. Robert E. Bauman wrote: “the VA is the quintessential government bureaucracy—administratively officious, laden with red tape and meddlesome regulatory minutia destructive of both quality care and staff conduct.” Quality obviously suffered.