[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…”