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Fixing the Veterans Administration

Updated on July 11, 2017
jackclee lm profile image

Jack is currently a volunteer at the Westchester County Archives. Jack has worked at IBM for over 28 years on museums and libraries.

Introduction

I have been following the fiasco that is unfolding at the Veterans Administration for a few years. It is time for the Obama Administration to step up and fix it once and for all. I have a few conservative ideas that he may try. Why not? Nothing he tried has worked so far.

- May. 2016

Background

Ever since the VA scandal came to light, all of us have been outraged by the callousness of the people involved. This included our President Barack Obama. He vows to the American people that he would do everything in his power to fix this. It is over two years since. The problem still exists. It is time for a radical solution. Our veterans are dying by the day. There is no time for debate or political in fighting. They deserve our support and we owe them.

What has been Tried?

President Obama has replaced the top man at the VA with Bob McDonald promising to reform the agency. The problem seems to be systemic. I don't blame Mr. McDonald for the lack of progress. Many of the problems seems out of his control and I sense his frustration. I do think his latest comments comparing a trip to Disneyland to the delay at the VA to be stupid. He should've known better. However, we do know that the system is broken and it is time to fix it once and for all.

As a conservative, I have come up with a few suggestions. These may seems a bit radical but desperate measures need to be taken during desperate times. Don't you agree?

My Simple Proposal

  • Disband the VA Administration
  • Expand Medicare to cover the Veterans
  • Transfer current budget of VA (same amount) to the Social Security Administration
  • Initiate the privatization of VA Hospitals across the nation
  • Offer the Veterans the option to see any Doctor or specialists in their area.

Why are these Conservative proposals?

You may ask why are these conservative proposals? Aren't you using government and expanding the SSA to do what the VA was doing? How is that Conservative? Doesn't conservative want to do nothing, cut spending, go back to the good old days, push grandma down a cliff? I am being fallacious as you can see.

That is not what conservatives believe in the first place. We want solution that works first and foremost. We also want accountability. That is exactly wrong with Washington today. They have bureaucracies that don't work and yet they want us to trust them to spend more to continue the same process with no sense of accountability or results.

Let me Explain a bit More...

Conservatives believe in some basic principles that apply to all aspects of governing.

  • Open and fair competition
  • Simplicity
  • Consistency
  • Equality and Freedom
  • Accountability
  • Efficiency

In the specific case of the VA, what is needed is competition. Today, the veterans are forced to go the one designated hospital and in some cases, far from their home. By opening up the Hospitals and clinics to private ownership, there will be more of them and they will compete for the federal dollars set aside to cater to veterans.

By transferring the administration duties of this to the SSA, it makes sense since they are already designed to service seniors and the disabled. This will just add another class of clients. It would add minimal bureaucratic functions to an existing agency. Perhaps, some of the current employees of the VA can transfer over. They need to be vetted so that the poor performers and fraudulent employees are weeded out.

The new SSA needs to be accountable to Congress and the DOD for how these veterans are being treated and how these funds are being spent. These audit procedures already exist.

By allowing the veterans to choose the clinics and Doctors and specialists, they are put in the drivers seat. Those Doctors who want to be paid will do their best to satisfy their customers - the patients. It is just common sense.

Important Follow Up

Another key thing I would do is to indict some of the former employees of the VA after they have been fired. It is a tenet of conservatism that the rule of law should be followed. It is also a deterrent for future wrong doings. By holding those responsible for the failures at the VA, you will send a strong message to all the employees. That is a sure way to reduce criminal activities.

It is called the "broken windows" theory of crime as instituted by Mayor Guiliani in NYC back in the 1990s. He ordered the police to go after small crimes such as theft by breaking car windows and pan handlers on the streets. In the long run, it lead to a reduction of all crimes. This is no longer a theory. It has proven to work.

I also think one of the mistake of the Bush Administration was to let some of the investigations of criminal activities of the Clintons lapse after the 2000 election. He was trying to unify the country by letting go of those issues after a contested election with Al Gore and the failed impeachment of President Clinton. Unfortunately, it lead to the re-emergence of Mrs. Clinton in the US Senate and later as Secretary State. I belief the current scandals with Mrs. Clinton and the Clinton Foundation would not have occurred if the Bush administration and the DOJ had done their job and go after the Clintons for the numerous wrong doings including election finance irregularities and many other alleged criminal activities.

Summary

I have outlined here a few conservative ideas on fixing the VA. I am hoping that all people, conservatives and liberals and libertarians will join me to demand changes in our government to bring this about. Our veterans deserve no less. Let's cast politics aside for once and do what is right for them. Perhaps, this could be a fresh start for other federal agencies as well.

I welcome comments and criticism and debate.

© 2016 Jack Lee

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    • Credence2 profile image

      Credence2 16 months ago from Florida (Space Coast)

      I am not saying that there is not enough money, I am talking about prioritizing the money that they have . Ask the managers why their priorities are not in the right place?

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      Jack Lee 16 months ago from Yorktown NY

      credence2, you are making excuses. Whenever something like this is expose, it is always a lack of funds. If we only gave them more money?...Same with education and environment and infrastructure...

      In this case, it is lack of priority and incompetence on the part of the IT department at the nuclear agency. I worked at IBM for many years and the floppy disk was invented by IBM. It became obsolete very quickly after the roll out of the PC. The technology improve so much from that to removable drives to CDROM to jump drives... How can they miss all these innovations? It boggles my mind. It comes down to accountability. I am willing to bet none of those involved were ever reprimanded or fired.

    • Credence2 profile image

      Credence2 16 months ago from Florida (Space Coast)

      You would be surprized, Jack. The agency that I once worked for was pretty current in keeping up with constantly IT. So, how much of the money has the Pentagon used for upgrading its infrastructure? There is more to defense than buying bombs and jet fighters. What type of budgetary pressures are on these agencies to prevent them from keeping up?

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      Jack Lee 16 months ago from Yorktown NY

      Credence2, I don't want to get off topic but I saw this in the news today and had to comment.

      http://www.cnn.com/2016/05/26/us/pentagon-floppy-d...

      It is reported that the Pentagon is still using floppy disks to manage it's nuclear program. This is obsolete technology from the 1980s. Do you really trust our federal agencies to do anything right? I would have thought National defense would not fall into that category. This follows the report recently that the IRS is still running MS Windows NT operating system. One that they finally stop supporting in 2014.

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      Jack Lee 16 months ago from Yorktown NY

      Credence2, I guess the proof is in the pudding. It would be nice if we had a Commander in Chief that is willing to make the tough call which ever way it goes. I just know keeping the VA as is with all its restrictions and limitations is not the answer. Thanks for checking in.

      On to the next topic...

    • Credence2 profile image

      Credence2 16 months ago from Florida (Space Coast)

      Jack, According to a survey conducted regarding Veterans opinions about the VA, these are some of the reason that most resist privatizing:

      According to this survey, Republicans like Jeb Bush, who has said he wants to privatize elements of veterans healthcare, might want to step warily, as veterans “see it as a potential voting issue, with a majority unwilling to support a candidate for a major office who favored moving toward privatizing VA hospitals programs and services.”

      According to the survey, “Veterans oppose privatization of VA hospital programs and services on four particular planks”:

      That health care was a promise for their service – veterans deserve their health care to be fully paid for.

      That private insurance corporations care too much about profits and how to cut spending, and they make decisions about care and treatment based on money, not based on what the veteran needs.

      That if Congress privatizes the VA, veterans returning from Iraq or Afghanistan with a significant war injury and their families would have to deal with private insurance and having the claim denied or only partial payment or going bankrupt.

      That after two wars in the last 14 years, a record number of veterans need care, and only the VA serves every veteran from every war with any injury. The VA is where the experts are, and we need to strengthen, not weaken this system.

    • jackclee lm profile image
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      Jack Lee 16 months ago from Yorktown NY

      Credence2, I did read the article you cited. I disagree with the conclusion. Sometimes, it takes real drastic change to get results. The VA is a prime example. When you have senior officials engaged in fraudulent activity such as keeping two sets of books and nothing can be done to fire them or charge them with crime, something is rotten to the core. In fact, the history of the VA makes my point. Everything that was done in the past in the name of improving the VA had the opposite result. That should tell you something?

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      Jack Lee 16 months ago from Yorktown NY

      Correction, I did not say breakup to several, only to transfer to SSA.

    • Credence2 profile image

      Credence2 16 months ago from Florida (Space Coast)

      Jack, that is why I decided not to take it. The stress was intense. But those guys rountinely earn over $170K, that is a lot of money for a federal employee.

      Also, I wanted to say that in your article, you speak of breaking up the functions of the VA and passing them around to other agencies. In the article that I linked it mentioned that that concept could prove a disservice to Vets as then they will have the cross over a thicket of several federal bureaucracies, instead of one that focuses on them and their needs exclusively.

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      Jack Lee 16 months ago from Yorktown NY

      Credence2, you would not like that job. A friend of my from college worked as a traffic controller for a while and he had to quit. He said it was too stressful. Hundreds of people's lives are in your hand. Any mistake would be fatal.

    • Credence2 profile image

      Credence2 16 months ago from Florida (Space Coast)

      You know, Jack, in 1984 I took the test for the Air Traffic Controller and passed it, in a different time line I might have well decided to do this as the money was great at the time. But while Reagan had to remind ATCs that they could not strike, he did not gut the FAA or try to privatize their functions. Yes, it was an executive decision that worked, and with the proper executive decisions, the VA can be properly brought into line as well. It is not impossible, the President will have to persevere considerably more.

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      Jack Lee 16 months ago from Yorktown NY

      Credence2, yes but they had two years to work on this. How much time do they need? I gathered you are not in sync. with what I propose. As I said, the problem at the VA is systemic. It will take a lot to fix it. I am reminded of the air traffic controllers strike back in the Reagan administration. He took the lead and fired all of them. That was an executive decision that worked.

    • Credence2 profile image

      Credence2 16 months ago from Florida (Space Coast)

      http://taskandpurpose.com/scrapping-the-entire-dep...

      Jack, this is more along the lines of what I am looking at. Conservatives have problems with Government agencies in principle. But most of them do their jobs and do them well. This VA is a rogue, we also had problems with Bureau of Mines in Colorado, years ago. No one is suggesting that we tank Government agencies because mismangement is not being properly identified and punished. The President is responsible as this an executive agency for failing to bring down the hammer and delegating too much with too little demands for accountability and results indicating improvement. I would fire the head of the agency and clean the nest of vipers and put the new director on probation. The President's Chief of Staff needs to closely monitor progress of the agency head with a plan and consequences for failure to produce.

      There was pressure brought to bear on the OPM (Office of Personnel Management) to get newly retired employees connected with their pension payments faster in spite of increasing backlogs. With the right leadership at the agency, this has been improving markedly.

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      Jack Lee 16 months ago from Yorktown NY

      It is hard to explain in 250 letters. If you want to learn about our history, go and read the founding fathers own writings. They are religious people and we are founded as a Christian nation. Our laws are based on a Judeo Christian philosophy. The 10 Commandments... They were smart enough to not pick one religion over another because there were different Christian sects in the 13 colonies. However, don't believe for one moment that we were a secular nation like some who try to rewrite our history. In fact, read the letters of Washington and Adams and you will know that they truly believe that our republic of democracy cannot survive in a country without a religious under pinning.

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      Jack Lee 16 months ago from Yorktown NY

      Why do we need a bill to do this? In the private world, if you are caught cheating and having two sets of books, you are fired and may be charged with a crime and may go to jail.

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      Old Poolman 16 months ago

      Jack - From what I read there is a bill before Congress now that would allow for the firing of under-performing VA employees. The bill actually passed the Senate but is now buried in the stack in the House. I guess an election year was improper timing for a bill such as this one.

      Your ideas are great by the way, but unfortunately will never happen in the VA.

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      Jack Lee 16 months ago from Yorktown NY

      Oldpoolman, sound like a good plan to me. Nothing like taking your own medicine.

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      Old Poolman 16 months ago

      The only way the VA system would ever be fixed is if all government employees including the President, members of Congress, and their families were forced to use the VA for their personal health care.

      Then, and only then, would they begin to care about the quality of healthcare provided by the VA.

      There are some really great people who work at the VA, but they are held back by an antiquated system bogged down with bureaucracy.

      Our government really desires what they call the single payer system of healthcare. For those who don't know, this is really Socialized Medicine and is run just like the VA runs their healthcare system.

      I would like to hear about even one thing our government has ever run efficiently. Healthcare is certainly not something that should be run by government.