By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
U.S. Representative Martha Roby (R) from Montgomery said in a written statement that President Barack Hussein Obama (D) should fire Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, to send the message that clear mismanagement of the Veterans Healthcare System truly won’t be tolerated.
Representative Martha Roby said, “Secretary Shinseki serves at the pleasure of the President. By allowing him to continue, President Obama sends precisely the wrong message that failure actually will be tolerated at the VA. The absence of accountability only begets a culture of complacency. President Obama must end that immediately by removing Secretary Shinseki and installing new leadership at the Department of Veterans Affairs.”
Rep. Roby said that the VA should utilize its contract program to meet the high service demand. Roby has called the recent revelations of negligence, fraud and abuse at multiple VA medical facilities that may have left as many as an estimated 100 veterans dead while sitting on waiting lists for care a “national outrage.” Recent reports revealed that VA officials in multiple cities created falsified data reports to hide their long waiting lists for veterans’ health services. Veterans needing treatment waited months for care. Some died while still on the “secret waiting list.”
Rep. Roby supports the VA utilizing its Patient-Centered Community Care (PCCC) program to allow VA medical centers to contract with local, non-VA health care providers for services like mental health care or specialized treatment. Roby said that fee-based programs could improve access to care, especially where demand exceeds the local facility’s resources or personnel.
The conservative Congresswoman said, “I hear from veterans everyday who are waiting on services from the VA. We know there is increased demand, so why not utilize this existing Patient Centered Community Care program to contract out services to local providers and get veteran patients the care they need. This is one way we can help eliminate long wait times and reduce costs for the VA.”
Rep. Roby said, “Memorial Day is a time to remember and honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in service to our nation. A special day set aside for all Americans to stop and acknowledge who paid the price for the freedoms we enjoy. I hope you and your family will take time this weekend to commemorate this solemn holiday, and take the opportunity to share what it truly means with young people. Unfortunately, this Memorial Day comes at a time when our country is appalled by the shameful way some veterans have been treated by the Department of Veterans Affairs healthcare system. The negligence and mismanagement at some VA facilities has become a national outrage, and deservedly so. The more that is revealed the more disgusting it becomes: Secret waiting lists. Veterans waiting months to receive care. Falsified data to make VA facilities look good on paper while veterans suffered and died without treatment.”
Rep. Roby continued, “I don’t think it is enough for President Obama and Secretary Shinseki to just be “mad” about this. It’s time for them to DO something about it. I fear that a systemic lack of accountability within this administration has led to a culture of complacency – and that must change. I mean, what does it take for someone in the Obama Administration to be fired?”
Last week, the House passed the VA Management Accountability Act, which was co-sponsored by Rep. Roby, by an overwhelming 390-33. It removes legal barriers for swiftly firing senior-level VA bureaucrats who aren’t getting the job done. Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Socialist from Vermont, however, has tied up the legislation in the U.S. Senate. Powerful Federal employee unions resist any effort to make Federal employees more accountable.
The House has recently passed an appropriations bill increasing funding for Veterans Health Services, with special funding directed toward mental health care, suicide prevention, and fixing problems that have contributed to the backlog.
Roby said, “I hear from veterans everyday who are waiting on services from the VA. This is past the point of being a problem. It is a crisis, and I’m tired of hearing excuses.”
Many critics of the VA say that the failure is systemic. The Veterans Administration owns and operates a string of ~150 hospitals and numerous clinics around the country. This is a socialist single payer and single provider model that conservative critics say will inevitably lead to a third rate system because there is no incentive to work harder, work smarter, or perform better.
There are 153 VA hospitals serving 5.7 million patients. Last year, the VA spent $56 billion on medical care, up from $40 billion in 2009 and $19 billion in 1998. The VA has over 300,000 employees and is the second-largest department of the federal government.