[guest post by Dana]
Along with the gaming of the system, Former New York Lieutenant Governor Betsy McCaughey makes us aware of a group that also hoped to make a buck off the corrupt system at the V.A. – even as veterans died from wait-times: the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE).
Encouraging vets on Medicare to use civilian care instead of the VA could cut the patient backlog at the VA by as much as half, solving a national crisis.
Almost half of vets are 65 or over, and nearly all vets using the VA have Medicare coverage.
Often, they’d be better off getting their bypass surgery and cancer operations at civilian hospitals that do higher volumes of these age-related procedures and have better survival rates, instead of sticking with the VA.
But the VA fails to tell them. The culprit is the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), the union that dominates the VA. For AFGE, the VA is a jobs program.
The union wants more patients, bigger VA budgets and more staff, never mind what ailing vets need.
Nine months ago, the VA rolled out a $9.3 billion program to refer vets needing specialists to civilian medical centers if the wait at their VA was too long or they lived too far away.
AFGE is fighting the program, even accusing VA executives of deliberately causing the backlog.
The union opposes outsourcing. Worse, vets are being discouraged from accessing civilian care, even when they are desperate and have insurance to pay for it. The VA’s health care budget is based on how many vets enroll and how much care they use.
For the unions, the bigger that budget the better. Even if it means letting vets with Medicare who could get timely civilian treatment for their cancer or heart disease die in line instead.
The editorial is worth reading in its entirety. McCaughey also reminds us who stands with the union.
As long as AFGE dominates the VA, the inefficiencies and corruption won’t be fixed.
The union’s contract is filled with mind-numbing rules to prevent workers from being given a new task, changing shifts, or being disciplined for shoddy work. The place is run for workers, not patients.
Shockingly, many VA facilities don’t give vets a reminder call a day or two before their appointments, a practice standard in civilian medical offices.
The result is that no-show rates are as high as 45%, tragic when vets are waiting for an opening. All the more reason to help waiting vets get civilian care. But be prepared for a battle with the VA’s self-serving unions and their ally, the Democratic Party.