Government Officials Find “Continued Deficiencies” in VA Healthcare &Facilities

Veterans' Healthcare U.S. government officials have been sounding off this week on the state of VA (Department of Veterans Affairs) health facilities and healthcare management in the United States. Yesterday, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) issued a letter to the president titled, “Continued Deficiencies at Department of Veterans Affairs’ Facilities,” and the Office of Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn released an oversight report titled, “Friendly Fire: Death, Delay and Dismay at the VA.” Both documents highlight inexcusable deficiencies in VA health care and facilities, as well as the subsequent negative impacts on VA patients.

The OSC letter focuses on activities at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi (Jackson VAMC), where whistleblower disclosures of misconduct have been continuously ignored by VA officials. These instances of misconduct are strikingly similar to those identified by the VA Inspector General at the Phoenix Health Care System (PHCS) last month. Offenses include improper credentialing of providers, unlawful prescriptions for narcotics, unsterile medical equipment, and excessive wait times, among others. Despite confirming these problems, the “VA refused to acknowledge any impact on the health and safety of veterans seeking care” in the Jackson VAMC, according to the letter. The OSC details 10 specific cases of such neglect in its letter and accompanying press release.

The report from Senator Tom Coburn describes the overarching “medical malpractice and neglect” of VA officials and facilities. Each section of the report details a different aspect of VA misconduct: The first section asserts that “veterans are suffering and dying under VA’s watch,” the second claims that “VA culture is plagued by mismanagement, negligence, and a lack of accountability,” the third states that “money is not the problem [as the] VA wastes billions of dollars,” and the fourth argues that “actions must be taken to reform VA health care and provide quality, timely care to veterans.” The final section lists Senator Coburn’s eight recommendations for reforming VA health care, a few of which include “greater health care freedom for veterans enrolled in VA care,” “[enhancing] transparency of VA health performance measures,” and “[prioritizing] veterans with combat related disabilities.”

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