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June 18, 2014

How does Congress punish the VA for incompetence, mismanagement and fraud? Double its budget


Apparently it’s good to delay veterans’ health care, fabricate medical records, cover up the fraud and harass whistleblowers—because Congress is rewarding such behavior.

Last week the U.S. Senate voted 93-3 in favor of a Veterans Administration reform bill that the Congressional Budget Office says could cost the federal government an additional $50 billion a year—nearly doubling the VA’s health care budget.

The House passed a similar bill unanimously.

The good news is the bill is supposed to allow veterans experiencing long waiting times or who live more than 40 miles from a VA facility to seek care in the private sector.

But the bill also throws billions of taxpayer dollars at the broken VA system, creating 26 new VA medical facilities.  Members of Congress will be jockeying to get those new facilities in their districts—because the VA system is more about politics than health care, and always has been.

There are more than 150 VA health care systems around the country, 130 nursing homes and 850 outpatient clinics.  Thus, every senator’s state has several VA facilities, and most House members will have one or more facilities in their district.

Politicians get to go to the hospitals and clinics and schmooze with vets, shake their hands and hear their stories and concerns.  In other words, VA health care facilities provide great photo ops—and jobs for constituents.

Calls for real reform that would give needy veterans private health coverage so they could go the doctors of their choice when they needed care have already been forgotten.  Congress has determined it’s better to express outrage and then throw more money at a failed system, just like we do for public schools and welfare programs.

But what kind of message of accountability does this bill send to other government agencies?

When widespread fraud, dereliction of duty and criminal activity are discovered at a federal agency, a few people will be allowed to retire early—with full taxpayer-funded benefits—and Congress will hold some hearings, but few if any will ultimately be held accountable.  Sounds a lot like the IRS scandal, Benghazi, Obamacare and Fast and Furious.


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