Calling the Department of Veterans Affairs ‘a total disaster,’ Trump unveils his plan to reform Veterans Affairs health care at a rally in Norfolk, Virginia.
He calls for all eligible veterans eligible for health care at VA hospitals to be allowed the same care at any hospital that accepts Medicare. He says this would increase competition and decrease wait times. He also calls for ‘firing the corrupt and incompetent VA executives’, claiming his plan would end all waste, fraud and abuse. For returning veterans, Trump pledges to increase job training and to incentivize companies to hire them.
Under this plan, we’ll ensure the VA is spending its dollars wisely, not corruptly. I believe a lot of it’s corruption, personally. Nobody can be that incompetent… The Trump plan will clean up VA finances so the current VA budget provides more and better care than it does now. We’ll have money actually left over.
Trump also addresses how he would increase support to female veterans with all VA hospitals permanently staffed with an obstetrician.
Donald Trump Plan To Reform Veterans Affairs – Trump Norfolk Rally
In an article for USA Today, Trump says that his words on McCain have been distorted by the media, and criticizes McCain and Sanders for “covering up” the Veterans Affairs Scandal:
Thanks to McCain and his Senate colleague Bernie Sanders, their legislation to cover up the VA scandal, in which 1,000+ veterans died waiting for medical care, made sure no one has been punished, charged, jailed, fined or held responsible. McCain has abandoned our veterans. I will fight for them. The reality is that John McCain the politician has made America less safe, sent our brave soldiers into wrong-headed foreign adventures, covered up for President Obama with the VA scandal and has spent most of his time in the Senate pushing amnesty. He would rather protect the Iraqi border than Arizona’s. He even voted for the Iran Nuclear Review Act of 2015, which allows Obama, who McCain lost to in a record defeat, to push his dangerous Iran nuclear agreement through the Senate without a supermajority of votes.
A number of my competitors for the Republican nomination have no business running for president. I do not need to be lectured by any of them. Many are failed politicians or people who would be unable to succeed in the private sector. Some, however, I have great respect for.
He also says that he was as co-chairman of the New York Vietnam Veterans Memorial Commission, which built a Veterans memorial, and that he financed and served as the grand marshal of the 1995 Nation’s Day Parade, which honored over 25,000 veterans.
In an internal report with the Department of Veterans Affairs says more than one-fourth of veterans are awaiting medical treatment, end up dead before they receive care. Of the 847,882 applicants that are waiting for enrollment, 238,657 of them have died. Representatives deny the claim, saying that the numbers have been artificially inflated because there is no way to remove former benefit applicants.
Perhaps, but it’s important to note that this information was leaked to the press by Scott Davis, a VA employee with a track record of blowing the whistle on the administration’s past abuses and neglects.
The Department of Veterans Affairs apologizes for causing “confusion” in reporting the number of deaths caused by delayed care at their facilities, and says “there was no intent to mislead anyone.” The VA says the numbers reported:
intertwined in written and oral statements leading to confusion. … VA inadvertently caused confusion in its communication on this complex set of reviews that were ongoing at the time. For that, we apologize.
The Senate unanimously confirms McDonald as the new Veterans Affairs secretary. The vote is 97-0. McDonald promises to take “immediate actions” in his first 90 days to reform the agency. McDonald replaces acting VA secretary Sloan Gibson, who temporarily took over the agency in May when Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned. Senate leaders say they have high expectations for the incoming secretary. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell:
But if Mr. McDonald is willing to work in a collaborative and open manner with Congress, he will find a constructive partner on this side of the aisle. We know that there is much we can, and should, do to address this crisis together… Because when veterans are denied care, it’s a priority deserving of bipartisan attention.
At a Senate Veterans Affairs meeting, Robert McDonald, Obama’s choice to lead the department, cities problems with patient access to health care, transparency, accountability and integrity, among other issues. He pledges to transform the agency, saying that “systematic failures” must be addressed:
The seriousness of the moment demands urgent action. The VA is in crisis. The veterans are in need. There is a lot of work to do to transform the department and it will not be easy, but it is essential and can be achieved.
Data obtained by the Washington Free Beacon through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) shows 575 “institutional disclosures of adverse events” at VA hospitals in fiscal year 2013. The term is used for reporting a serious mistake. The Veterans Health Administration ethics handbook states such disclosures are required when:
an adverse event has occurred during the patient’s care that resulted in or is reasonably expected to result in death or serious injury.
Specifically, adverse events are defined by the department as:
untoward incidents, diagnostic or therapeutic misadventures, iatrogenic injuries, or other occurrences of harm or potential harm directly associated with care or services provided.
Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson says he expects to have a plan in place to take “personnel actions” against employees responsible for manipulating patient wait lists at one VA medical center by the end of this week. The medical center he is referring to was not disclosed, but he says it is not the one in Phonenix, the center that has been the focus of the waiting list scandal. He says the investigative process:
takes a long time. And nobody is more frustrated about that than I am.
He says investigators from the Office of Inspector General are at 70 locations, and he needs to wait for each investigation to be complete before anyone can be fired.
Until people actually see those consequences I think they still don’t trust it’s a serious thing. I want to set the tone.
At a Congressional hearing on July 8, 2014, the number two official at the VA, James Tuchschmidt, says he is sorry that VA employees who reported problems were subject to retaliation. After listening to four VA employees testify for nearly three hours about the VA’s actions to limit criticism and strike back against whistleblowers, he says:
I apologize to everyone whose voice has been stifled. That’s not what I stand for. I’m very disillusioned and sickened by all of this.
Two weeks ago, Suzanne Chase, of Acton, Massachusetts, receives a letter from the local VA hospital saying an appointment can be made for her husband. She had attempted to move her husband to that facility in 2012, but waited four months and received no reply. Her husband, Doug Chase, died in August, 2012. She says the department should have known he was dead because she applied for funeral benefits, and the request was denied. A spokesperson for the VA Department says:
We regret any distress our actions caused to the veteran’s widow and family.
A nurse working at a VA facility in Albany, NY claims her supervisors turned on her when she reported mistreatment of patients and stolen drugs. After Val Riviello reported that doctors had restrained a patient for seven hours, violating a VA rule, she was punished. She said the restraints are for patients who are a threat to themselves and others, and they are supposed to come off when that is no longer the case.
That’s really kind of barbaric.
She is now working in an office cubicle and has been stripped of her nursing duties and supervisory role at the facility. Rivello is facing a 30-day suspension without pay.
Pauline DeWenter, a scheduling clerk for the VA in Phoenix, Arizona, reveals that files were altered to change the number of deaths of veterans who died while awaiting care. She also states that she was in charge of handling a “secret waiting list” containing the names of veterans who were waiting for care, some of which waited months for care or received no care at all. This is the first time DeWenter has spoken publicly about the Phoenix VA scandal.
“Deceased” notes on files were removed to make statistics look better, so veterans would not be counted as having died while waiting for care
A report sent to the White House by the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) claims that two veterans went years without proper treatment. The report states that one veteran was in a facility for eight years before a complete psychiatric evaluation was ever performed. Another veteran had only one psychiatric note on his chart even though he had been an inpatient at a facility in Massachusetts for seven years. The agency is still investigating more than 50 whistleblower reports involving health and safety allegations at VA facilities nationwide.
Shinseki resigns his Cabinet post and accepts blame for troubles plaguing veterans hospitals, citing a systemic lack of integrity. President Obama accepts Shinseki’s resignation with “considerable regret”, saying:
We don’t have time for distractions. We need to fix the problem. Our vets deserve the best. They’ve earned it.
Before his resignation, Shinseki provides the president with a report outlining the problems surrounding the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Limbaugh claims Obama’s response to the Veterans’ issue is exactly what Hitler, Stalin, Lenin and Fidel Castro would say:
This is classic, this is exactly how stuff like this gets spun… in dictatorships, and in totalitarian states since time immemorial. For example, if Lenin only knew all these people dying in Ukraine… if Stalin only knew.. if Hitler only knew — oh, gee, if he only knew! If Castro, if he finds out, oh, no!
Limbaugh has compared Obama to Hitler several times in the past.
CNN reports that 40 veterans died while on a “secret” appointment list. Retired Dr. Sam Foote tells CNN that the VA hospital in Phoenix keeps two lists: an official list that reflects timely scheduling of appointments, and a secret list that reveals waiting times of up to a year or more. Foote explains that evidence of untimely appointment scheduling was shredded in order to make it appear that the agency’s 14-day scheduling protocol was being observed.
The scheme was deliberately put in place to avoid the VA’s own internal rules. They developed the secret waiting list.
VA regulations require patients to receive treatment within 14 to 30 days of the initial request. Phoenix VA Director Sharon Helman responds:
It is disheartening to hear allegations about Veterans care being compromised and we are open to any collaborative discussion that assists in our goal to continually improve patient care.
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