Patterico's Pontifications

5/23/2014

A Memorial Day Slap In The Face

Filed under: General — Dana @ 6:20 am

[guest post by Dana]

Just a few days before Memorial Day and in the midst of the growing VA scandal, Senate Democrats blocked a bill (VA Management Accountability Act, H.R.4031) that would have made it easier to cut through bureaucratic red tape and fire VA employees, as well as hold the department more accountable.

Take heart, though, because President Obama is madder than hell about the scandal.

In the meantime, the Weekly Standard notes,

The director of the Phoenix VA hospital received an $8,500 pay bonus last month even as allegations of 40 deaths resulting from excessive wait times for care were being investigated. Sharon Helman, the director of the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care System, “got an $8,500 bonus last month while there was an open [inspector general] investigation into Phoenix,” Chairman Miller told CNN’s Jake Tapper in an interview Wednesday.

It had been previously reported that Helman received more than $9,000 in bonus pay in 2013 on top of her annual salary of $169,900. The VA office of inspector general began investigating the Phoenix VA for wrongdoing in December 2013, months before Helman received the additional $8,500 bonus.

And an update:

The VA announced this afternoon: “Secretary Shinseki today exercised his authority to rescind Sharon Helman’s fiscal year 2013 performance award immediately. Previously, Ms. Helman received the performance award due to an administrative error.”

Those darn administrative errors!

For an excellent overview of the left’s idealizing the Socialist Supermodel that is the VA, James Taranto is not to be missed.

In part, he reminds us of Paul Krugman’s words (that have come back to haunt him),

American health care is desperately in need of reform. But what form should change take? Are there any useful examples we can turn to for guidance?

Well, I know about a health care system that has been highly successful in containing costs, yet provides excellent care. And the story of this system’s success provides a helpful corrective to anti-government ideology. For the government doesn’t just pay the bills in this system — it runs the hospitals and clinics.

No, I’m not talking about some faraway country. The system in question is our very own Veterans Health Administration, whose success story is one of the best-kept secrets in the American policy debate.

Here is Krugman again, in 2011:

What Mr. Romney and everyone else should know is that the [Veterans Health Administration] is a huge policy success story, which offers important lessons for future health reform. …

And yes, this is “socialized medicine” — although some private systems, like Kaiser Permanente, share many of the V.H.A.’s virtues. But it works — and suggests what it will take to solve the troubles of U.S. health care more broadly.

I was talking with a colleague yesterday who happens to be a former Marine. At a point in our conversation, he had to quickly dash off to make his appointment at the VA. He commented wryly, “Well, maybe it will be today…”

–Dana

52 Responses to “A Memorial Day Slap In The Face”

  1. And yes, this is “socialized medicine” — although some private systems, like Kaiser Permanente, share many of the V.H.A.’s virtues. But it works — and suggests what it will take to solve the troubles of U.S. health care more broadly.

    There is another model system very similar to the VA. It is the National Health Service of Britain . Similarities ?

    Thousands of patients have been denied surgery or had it delayed by NHS waiting list fiddles, a damning report said yesterday.
    Hospital managers have resorted to ‘deliberate manipulation’ to meet Government targets on queues for operations.
    They have used cruel tricks such as offering operations when they knew a patient would be on holiday, then dropping them from the list for refusing the date.
    The National Audit Office, the Parliamentary watchdog, found that some hospitals have been massaging figures for years. Records were routinely fiddled to hide patients waiting longer than the Government’s 18-month maximum.
    The investigation into nine NHS trusts found a catalogue of deception affecting around 6,000 patients. It has led to the sacking or resignation of managers – but created another scandal because some were given compensation packages and then rehired by the NHS with no way to reclaim the money.

    Yup. Very similar.

    More than 1,000 patients were deleted from waiting lists, never put on them or ‘inappropriately suspended’. Patients were offered dates at short notice, asked to come in when they had arranged holidays or ‘ intentionally held back’ from lists.

    Mike K (cd7278)

  2. First off Paul Krugman is a moron who is almost always wrong on policy, economics and most importantly people ( which is the crux of economics).

    Secondly, I’m a Vietnam vet. I was shot once and hit in the back once by mortar shrapnel. I have two Purple Hearts and still carry the shrapnel next to my right kidney. I never have gone to a VA hospital and I never would. I have friends who do and all they do is bitch about it. I use my own health insurance and choose my own doctors and treatments which fortunately are very few and far between so far. The only thing I get “treated for” is COPD and all I can do for that are a few inhalers.

    Hoagie (511e55)

  3. Growing up as an Army brat, I got to see the care military free clinics give. From my brother getting measles that they didn’t want to admit was measles…so they drew so much blood his spots would disappear to every single problem I had being dealt with a high dose of ibuprofen. Heck, even when I got ear wax compacted in my ear, that was too high a task for them to handle. I mean, they’ll try real hard to get it out, but they can’t guarantee they won’t damage anything or cause immense pain.

    Long wait times because everyone goes to the clinic for colds that they can do nothing for.

    It surprises me not at all that Paul Krugman would endorse the virtues of failure. There’s a reason his profile picture looks like the face of a half-retarded moron. (Because Paul Krugman IS a half-retarded moron)

    DejectedHead (a094a6)

  4. Another thing I’d like to bitch about this Memorial Day weekend is this; guys like Erlich or Krugman or just about all of our mal-administration are basically a bunch of spoiled kids. Few have been in battle and almost none know what it’s like to shoot a man, be shot at or be shot by a man. They have led typical leftist lives of privilege, gone to schools like Haaaarvard, went directly into either community organizing, the bureaucracy or some other form of bull crap “public service” ( meaning lining their own pockets at public expense). Few if any ran a business, made a payroll, took any personal financial risk or created anything which even minutely creates wealth or jobs for anyone but themselves.

    These are the creeps who are leading our country today. Spoiled children, leftist ideologues and seemingly pathological liars. And they pretend to give a rats ass about veterans? If they ever met a veteran like the guys I fought with he’d slap the cheeky little bastards silly.

    Hoagie (511e55)

  5. When I got recalled after 9/11 I lived in the BOQ at Yokosuka. My next door neighbor was a very nice young lady, a LTJG nurse. One day I ran into her in the hallway and she was obviously upset. It turned out that the Naval Hospital had discovered it hadn’t informed a potential cancer patient of a test result from years earlier. Because of the time difference they had instructed her to make a phone call from her quarters to ask “Hey, how’s it going.” I didn’t need to ask, from the look.

    Question. Why did it fall to the O-2? Why did the most junior officer have to make the phone call? No one else have the huevos?

    Steve57 (c8cb20)

  6. That “administrative error” was probably caused by low level employees in the Cincinnati office.

    Jim (145e10)

  7. And by the way, from USA Today:

    “Federal employees owe a total of $3.3 billion in back taxes to the federal government, according to Internal Revenue Service data released Thursday.

    In all, 318,462 federal employees owed back taxes as of last Sept. 30 — an increase of 2.6% from the previous year. (snip)

    The highest rates of tax delinquency are at small federal agencies dealing with civil rights and the disabled: The National Council on Disability (11.54%), the Committee for Purchase from People Who Are Blind (10%) and the Civil Rights Commission (9.52%).

    Outside the Treasury Department, the most conscientious taxpayers are active-duty military personnel, who have a delinquency rate of just 1.7%.”

    So not only do these filthy little rats screw us, they won’t even pay ( as they would say) “their fare share”. They’re above the law.

    Hoagie (511e55)

  8. Comment by DejectedHead (a094a6) — 5/23/2014 @ 7:51 am

    measles that they didn’t want to admit was measles…so they drew so much blood his spots would disappear

    That innovative treatment should have been published in a medical magazine.

    to every single problem I had being dealt with a high dose of ibuprofen.

    They should have used aspirin, which may even cure cancer, bt nobody will fund the study, according to the New York Times.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/21/health/research/studies-link-aspirin-daily-use-to-reduced-cancer-risk.html

    http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/07/05/how-aspirin-might-stem-cancer

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/20/opinion/a-cancer-treatment-in-your-medicine-cabinet.html

    In 2010, we published an observational study in The Journal of Clinical Oncology showing that women with breast cancer who took aspirin at least once a week for various reasons were 50 percent less likely to die of breast cancer.

    In 2012, British researchers, by combining results from clinical trials that looked at using aspirin to prevent heart disease, found that aspirin was also associated with a significantly lower risk of breast cancer death.

    And yet, until now, there have been no randomized trials (the gold standard of research) of aspirin use among women with breast cancer.

    It’s not hard to see why: Clinical trials are typically conducted on drugs developed by labs seeking huge profits. No one stands to make money off aspirin, which has been a generic drug since the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, and which costs less than $6 for a year’s supply.

    [The Treaty of Versailles must have confiscated the German patent of the Bayer company. In those days, something going off patent, didn't mean it might become less available. That didn't start to happen until the 21st century. - SF]

    Thankfully, the first randomized clinical trial is now going on in Britain, made possible by funding from a nonprofit group, Cancer Research UK. But the British study is looking at four cancers, and won’t be done until 2025.

    If we in the United States had funding to do a similar trial, we could combine our data and get answers much faster.

    [Don't lie. You already know the answer. What you may not know are the percentages.]

    If the United States is to maintain its role as the global leader in biomedical research, it must fund its own trial of aspirin in breast cancer.

    And take 15 years before doing anything to imrpove clinical treatment. Sure.

    Heck, even when I got ear wax compacted in my ear, that was too high a task for them to handle. I mean, they’ll try real hard to get it out, but they can’t guarantee they won’t damage anything or cause immense pain.

    Long wait times because everyone goes to the clinic for colds that they can do nothing for.

    It surprises me not at all that Paul Krugman would endorse the virtues of failure. There’s a reason his profile picture looks like the face of a half-retarded moron. (Because Paul Krugman IS a half-retarded moron)

    Sammy Finkelman (42d229)

  9. Heck, even when I got ear wax compacted in my ear, that was too high a task for them to handle.

    I mean, they’ll try real hard to get it out, but they can’t guarantee they won’t damage anything or cause immense pain.

    No guarantee of competence, if you can’t choose – or at least reject – your doctor(s)

    Long wait times because everyone goes to the clinic for colds that they can do nothing for.

    Most doctors don’t make house calls anymore.

    Sammy Finkelman (42d229)

  10. 5. If the test was given years earlier, then this was probably one of those non-cancer cancers which is the reason they started recommending they stop doing mammograms in young women.

    Sammy Finkelman (42d229)

  11. Steve57 — everyone else was too busy ignoring patient care, so it fell to her, with the other most-junior taking out the trash chores.

    htom (412a17)

  12. Greetings:

    Maybe its time to outsource the VA’s healthcare operations to Kaiser Permanente. I had their insurance for many of my years in working in California’s printing industry and I don’t remember any difficulties worthy of note. I was impressed by their commitment to studying their operations in order to improve them.

    11B40 (6abb5c)

  13. I know in Canada here we have socialized health care. I love it, because I know I will be covered in any emergency situation, but I also believe that the model is unsustainable economically with our aging baby boomer population.

    Chris (a9e1ad)

  14. Chris, I’ve had socialized health care most of my life. I grew up a Navy brat. Actually my dad was Coast Guard, but they get Navy retirement benefits. Then I went Navy.

    Socialized medicine is great. Until you need it. As a general rule, once you remove the profit motive you remove any motive whatsoever.

    Steve57 (c8cb20)

  15. “…on top of her annual salary of $169,900.”

    Wow. For that kind of money, I’d be bending over backwards to make sure that things got done, the deadwood removed, and the operation was running as smoothly as possible.

    Blacque Jacques Shellacque (d3cdd0)

  16. Really, what would Memorial Day be without a slap in the face?

    Steve57 (c8cb20)

  17. I’m beginning to think there is a way to fix this: Congresspersons, their direct employees, VA staff and administration, and all of those folk’s dependents will be treated solely by the VA, as if they were the lowest rated for care veteran. Proof of treatment elsewhere within CONUSA shall be grounds for dismissal from office with no future benefits.

    htom (412a17)

  18. That would certainly do it, htom.

    felipe (098e97)

  19. The treatment of our vets is just so deplorable.

    Scippio Americanas (2b4575)

  20. Having thought about this, the result of my plan would be high-speed rail between D.C. and Toronto.

    htom (412a17)

  21. 18. The treatment of our vets is just so deplorable.

    Comment by Scippio Americanas (2b4575) — 5/23/2014 @ 10:31 pm

    But the speechifying was GREAT!

    From my sainted dad I learned two things. Besides you have to go out, but you don’t have to come back.

    One: they are all politicians.

    Two: they’ll lie about anything.

    How, America, did you put these @$$wholes in charge of your health care?

    Steve57 (4e729f)

  22. Optical mouse strikes again.

    *... why did you put these …*

    And yes I know about the misspelling.

    Steve57 (4e729f)

  23. Another Memorial Day slap in the face brought to you by the US Government.

    “White Privilege.”

    Does this look like privilege?

    Coast Guard vs Rough Seas… Checto Bar

    It seems to me the “privileged” would have lay abed until noonish before wandering out onto the veranda to sip julips, as opposed to manning the surf boats.

    Steve57 (4e729f)

  24. Hope you all enjoyed the 72dnd Anniversary of the Battle of The Coral Sea in peace and prosperity.

    Steve57 (4e729f)

  25. *72nd

    Steve57 (4e729f)

  26. Anniversary of Midway is almost upon us. Who has already put up the lights and the tree?

    Steve57 (4e729f)

  27. When the VA was created people paid cash for their medical treatment. When they could find it. Nothing like the health care delivery system we have today. It’s obsolete. Debating fixes for it is like debating whether the edge or the point is the most effective use of the saber. Give the vets VA insurance cards that they can use anywhere!

    nk (dbc370)

  28. 26. …Debating fixes for it is like debating whether the edge or the point is the most effective use of the saber…

    Comment by nk (dbc370) — 5/24/2014 @ 9:39 pm

    Concur. But you have to teach all the fighting points of the sword. Not my favorite in human history Nathan Bedord Forrest lived for more days than he should have because those ****ed Yankees didn’t thrust.

    But then the M1840 Cavalry Saber didn’t actually invite that maneuver.

    Training could have corrected that. Also I think we need to explore how to crush someone’s skull in various ways with the hilt.

    If we are going to arm our fighters with swords.

    As seems increasingly likely.

    Steve57 (4e729f)

  29. Next in the series: 1v1 dissimilar-Wright flyer versus the MiG37. What the future Naval aviator needs to know considering the crap he or she will be issued.

    Steve57 (4e729f)

  30. Steve, you probably already know this, but the squared edge on your dress saber is not a feature only of dress sabers. All sabers and naval cutlasses were issued with squared, unsharpened edges. They were clubs essentially. Why? I don’t know — because military weapons commissions are stupid? Wherefore the slander that the edge was not effective.

    nk (dbc370)

  31. I do know this; sword makers left it to the sword users to sharpen the blade. And to determine what parts of the blade to sharpen. For instance the foible would generally be sharpened. But not the forte.

    This also left the part of the blade closest to the guard available for maneuvers like were done with the old medieval two handers, and to be thrown.

    “Here, catch.”

    Steve57 (4e729f)

  32. Pro tip: mark the part of the blade you’ve sharpened with a ribbon or marker or something.

    So you know not to grab it.

    Steve57 (4e729f)

  33. I went through a “sword period.” And I stil do have swords. Some of which will shortly be coming up for sale on ebey.

    Then I advanced to shovels.

    From Belgium to Singapore I can walk into a hardware store and buy a shovel.

    Anybody doubt I and a catch-as-catch-can crew of hellions who are only swabbies because that was the choice the judge gave them in lieu of prison could have taken care of Micheal Adebelajo with a few shovels?

    Steve57 (4e729f)

  34. Adebolajo

    The point stands.

    Steve57 (4e729f)

  35. This is a no-brainer.

    These people at the VA falsified data to show improvement where there was none, and accepted bonuses sometimes in five figures for the last five years, based their phony figures. That’s fraud.

    And when someone dies as a result of a felony, isn’t that MURDER?

    To hell with “reforming” a criminal agency. Send everyone with any part in it to jail.

    THEN, shut down the VA. Fire the rest of them. Sure there will be some decent workers lost, boo hoo hoo. In Phoenix, a private cardiologists sees and treats more patients every year than EIGHT at the VA there. Same in San Diego, probably close everywhere if they bothered to check. You can’t reform that sort of inefficiency.

    We just put veterans on the same federal insurance as postal workers, except the government pays the deductibles and co-pays, let the vets go anywhere instead of to a substandard separate system run by thieves.

    Estragon (ada867)

  36. There is no “I” in shovel. Nor will there be, in what follows:

    Me, coulda stuck a shovel between angry dude’s legs. Turned. Hobbled him. Pulled. Fall down. Other dudes take care of.

    No angry guy. No more.

    Steve57 (4e729f)

  37. aww, $ceeit. “hobbled him?”

    Steve57 (4e729f)

  38. Me can’t even play own word games!

    Steve57 (4e729f)

  39. You know this VA scandal isn’t new. Here is an article from February. Veterans Affairs purged thousands of medical tests to ‘game’ its backlog stats. This isn’t the two lists thing. Here they just deleted existing appointments, because if the appointments have been deleted, they aren’t behind and of course eligible for bonuses.

    Thousands of orders for diagnostic medical tests have been purged en masse by the Department of Veterans Affairs to make it appear its decade-long backlog is being eliminated, according to documents obtained by the Washington Examiner.

    About 40,000 appointments were “administratively closed” in Los Angeles, and another 13,000 were cancelled in Dallas in 2012.

    Read the whole article.

    I’ve said for a long time that government programs become corrupted. The way to reduce corruption in government is to reduce the size of government. If someone says “the government should fix that”, just say “no”. Say no for the children. :)

    Tanny O'Haley (c0a74e)

  40. what is the spirit of the bayonet?

    redc1c4 (abd49e)

  41. The spirit of the bayonet is to kill.

    Steve57 (4e729f)

  42. Are they that not teaching that? No, they are not.

    Steve57 (4e729f)

  43. The link was supposed to go here.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y45rzmDaABI

    Steve57 (4e729f)

  44. Dawn patrol. I remember it well. Look at the vid to get an idea of how many people it took to make it happen. Working through the night.

    Steve57 (4e729f)

  45. It’s too late for this year. But think of next year.

    Volunteers Needed for Memorial Day Preparation

    Volunteers are needed at Loma Vista no earlier than 8 a.m. Saturday, May 26, to place a small cross or Star of David and a flag at the grave of each veteran buried at the park.

    Steve57 (4e729f)

  46. The link @42 doesn’t seem to be working. Here’s another.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y45rzmDaABI

    Steve57 (4e729f)

  47. There’s always a trade off. A big plane is easier to see. But then, it carries more gas. Which can make the difference in a fight.

    Steve57 (4e729f)

  48. Appropos of nothing, I was doing my semi-annual oiling of the swords/knives and I noticed my kukri sitting next to the AN XI Light Cavalry Saber. Except one has the edge on what would be the belly, and the other has the edge on the back.

    They are both curved, but one must be curved incorrectly.

    http://www.thekhukurihouse.com/

    http://swordscollection.blogspot.com/2012/02/xi-light-cavalry-troopers-sabre.html

    Naw, they both work. Unlike a strait edge, which has to basically force its way through, a curved edge presents a fresh working surface as it cuts.
    Because of the slicing motion. It doesn’t matter if the edge is curved downward or upward.

    Steve57 (4e729f)

  49. The Kukri of the month? Well, this month we’er going with:

    http://www.thekhukurihouse.com/catalog/khukuri_of_the_month.php

    McCurdy’s Modern, a modern day kukri is BOTH – a performer (made for rough and tough use) and a displayer (adding beauty and glory to a surrounding)..

    …US$ 89.99

    Blade::
    The famous World War (Historic) version; a typical khukri shape. Chirra/fuller in blade to work as an “I-Beam” to cut down unnecessary weight but more importantly give extra strength and rigidity to the blade. The chirra works as a shock absorber and eases the tension and impact felt by the blade. Finger choil at the end of the blade to rest index finger and to have more control over the knife to perform close and small games. Unpolished blade for good look and better temper/hardness.

    Handle::
    Strength of the kukri. Its shape, size, contours, curves etc all give the knife a perfect grip and thus a perfect HOLD. The flared up top and bottom portion of the handle give a nicer feel and more comfortable clutch. It also works as a Guard from both sides to always keep the using hand within the handle area (where it must be at all times). Full flat tang 3 x riveted handle for strength and durability. Wooden handle scales are strongly glued to the tang and further riveted to reinforce the whole fixture. The handle also has a lanyard hole at the end of the tang in which a leather cord can be inserted (as shown in the photo) in where the using hand goes through, making sure the blade never leaves the hand…

    Steve57 (4e729f)

  50. Actually it’s easy enough to find out where India sources its Kukris for its Gurkhas. Such as the Assam Rifles. Which if you’re looking to arm yourself with Kukris is the way to go, I think.

    I just thought the idea of a “Kukri of the Month” club was amusing. A good kukri will last you a lifetime.

    Steve57 (4e729f)


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