Government & Politics

VA Delays: An ObamaCare Case Study

Obama can be mad all he wants, but the inherent problems remain.

May 20, 2014

In 2003, Barack Hussein Obama declared, “I happen to be a proponent of a single-payer universal health care program.” And as Majority Leader Harry Reid declared at the launch of ObamaCare last year, “What we’ve done with ObamaCare is have a step in the right direction, but we’re far from having something that’s going to work forever.” By “forever” he means “a single-payer universal health care program.”

Democrats mocked critics of Obama’s nationalized health care scheme and the rise of “death panels,” but with the Left’s agenda to fully nationalize health care distribution as a backdrop, the Department of Veterans Affairs government-run health care delivery bureaucracy is a case study in the failure of socialized medicine.

The outrageous “secret waiting lists” at Veterans Affairs hospitals are far more widespread than originally thought. The story began in Phoenix, but it soon came to light that facilities in several other states were treating veterans with similar bureaucratic contempt. It’s a disgusting disservice to our veterans, and it’s virtually certain to become normal for all of us as health care becomes rationed under ObamaCare.

The Albuquerque VA hospital evidently is now the eighth facility to place veterans on secret long waiting lists. A whistleblower says the facility has already destroyed records to cover its tracks.

The nationwide death toll is hard to pinpoint. So far, the VA only admits to 23 deaths due to delayed care, but there are allegedly 40 in Phoenix alone and the overall number will grow as more information is discovered. In fact, Dayton Daily News points to VA settlements with the families of veterans who died waiting for treatment: “A database of paid claims by the VA since 2001 includes 167 in which the words ‘delay in treatment’ is used in the description. The VA paid out a total of $36.4 million to settle those claims, either voluntarily or as part of a court action.” So if that’s accurate, it’s 167 deaths and counting.

As unbelievable as it may seem, the Obama administration recycled one of its famously false refrains – that Barack Obama only just found out about the mess from media reports. White House Propaganda Minister Jay Carney said Monday, “I believe we learned about them through the reports. I’ll double-check if that’s not the case, but that’s when we learned about them.” The White House said the same thing about the IRS scandal, Fast and Furious, eavesdropping on the Associated Press, the unprepared state of Healthcare.gov and so on, and so on.

If it were true that Obama only just found out, how is that a defense? Who is running his administration? Is Obama really just an innocent bystander? The alternative is no better – the White House is lying.

Let’s stroll down Obama’s proclamations and promises in front of national Veteran group conventions for the last seven years.

In 2007, then presidential aspirant Obama blasted George W. Bush’s Department of Veterans Affairs, saying, “After seven years of an administration that has stretched our military to the breaking point, ignored deplorable conditions at some VA hospitals, and neglected the planning and preparation necessary to care for our returning heroes, America’s veterans deserve a president who will fight for them not just when it’s easy or convenient, but every hour of every day for the next four years. No veteran should have to fill out a 23 page claim to get care or wait months and even years to get an appointment at the VA.”

February 2008: “We need to make sure folks get the care they need without long waiting lists and long drives.”

May 2008: “The true test of our patriotism is whether we will serve our returning heroes as well as they have served us. That’s why I have pledged to build a 21st-century VA as president.” (It comes as no surprise to those of us who have honored our oaths “to Support and Defend” that Obama has failed that test.)

Obama’ incoming administration was warned of the VA’s problems in late 2008 by George W. Bush’s transition team.

August 2009: “We’re going to cut those backlogs, slash those wait times, deliver your benefits soon. I know you’ve heard this for years but the leadership and resources we are providing this time means that we’re going to be able to do it. That is our mission and we’re going to make it happen.”

August 2010: “We’re going to keep at this until we meet our commitment to cut those backlogs, slash those wait times, and deliver your benefits sooner.”

August 2011: “Let me say this – and I know Secretary Shinseki agrees – when our veterans who fought for our country have to fight to get the benefits that you have already earned, that’s unacceptable. So this is going to remain a key priority for us.”

July 2012: “For the first time ever, we’ve made military families and veterans a top priority not just at DOD, not just at the VA, but across the government. … New veterans shouldn’t be piled onto the backlog, and we will not rest, I will not be satisfied, until we get this right.”

In 2013, speaking to disabled vets, Obama rewarmed his 2009 pledge: “I pledged to cut the backlog, slash those wait times, deliver your benefits sooner.” He also pledged to “reduce wait times for veterans seeking mental health care.”

Once again, Barack Obama is entangled in another of his own complex web of lies.

While VA Secretary Eric Shinseki is “mad as hell,” Obama is reportedly “madder than hell.” In fact, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough insists, “[N]obody is more outraged about this problem right now.”

We think that the families of deceased Vets are probably “more outraged.”

Obama just found out? Check. He’s angry? Check. He symbolically fired somebody? Check. He blamed Bush? Check.

And regarding Obama’s feeble and fallacious attempt to pass this buck back to the Bush Administration, especially given that George Bush actually did make measurable improvements to VA service delivery, Charles Krauthammer notes, “The statute of limitations for a president to say, ‘Hey I just got here,’ is 18 months.”

Political analyst Arnold Ahlert has the bottom line: “[W]hile the political machinations, the hearings, the media stories and the investigations play themselves out, men and women who served this nation – and in many cases paid an extremely heavy price for that highly honorable commitment – are getting the short end of the stick. The very least this nation owes our veterans is timely healthcare, not a litany of excuses and stonewalling from a dysfunctional and very likely corrupt bureaucracy. One like every other government bureaucracy, where self-preservation matters above all else. If there is little else Americans learn from this scandal, it should be noted that this is the true face of government-run healthcare, in all its ‘individual be damned’ glory. If the government can treat 8.57 million veterans this shabbily, imagine how they will treat Americans forced to enroll in ObamaCare.”

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