Oskaloosa.com

Local News

June 6, 2014

Veterans wait for healthcare, we wait for accountability

by taylor armerding

CNHI columnist

Anybody who has served in the U.S. armed forces could not have been surprised when the Veterans Administration health care scandal “broke” last month.

Hidden wait times? Patients dying due to a lack of prompt treatment, with any mention of “delay” scrubbed from their records? Shredded documents?

It’s all the standard dysfunction of government bureaucracies: If the real data might jeopardize your performance bonus, then you fudge the data. And you don’t say anything when others fudge their data. Everybody takes care of everybody else – except those they are supposed to be taking care of.

People die as a result. But, as our compassionate socialist senator, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, said recently in response to questions about the scandal, “We know people die every day.” True enough, Bernie. But I’m pretty sure you won’t get put on a waiting list for necessary treatment if your own health declines.

In general, there is little to stop the VA’s dysfunction. Is it going to go out of business? The money is coming from taxpayers, so it is inexhaustible. You can’t go broke. How great is that?

I was in the Army for only two years, but I saw this syndrome at play with leave (vacation) time. Everybody got 30 days – six weeks – which is pretty good for your first job out of college. Not bad even after 20 years.

But everybody also knew how to massage the system so they’d get even more.

It was easy to get credit for a day of work on a Friday, even if you left on vacation on a Thursday night and never showed up for duty the next day. The same thing was true at the end of the next week; have somebody sign you back in the following Friday and get credit for working that day, as well. So, take off six working days (plus two weekends) and only get charged for four days leave.

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