10 September 2014

VA IG Report: "VA Managers Lied to Federal Investigators"

By Associated Press September 9 at 3:25 PM
"WASHINGTON — Managers at more than a dozen Veterans Affairs medical facilities lied to federal investigators about scheduling practices and other issues, the department’s inspector general said Tuesday. (Altogether, nearly 50% of VHA management lied to federal investigators, which is a crime.)

Richard Griffin, the VA’s acting inspector general, said his office is investigating allegations of wrongdoing at 93 VA sites across the country, including 12 reports that have been completed and submitted to the VA for review."

That was the bad news from September 9. It shows the breakdown of integrity at the VA's Veterans Health Administration. It leaves veterans convinced that Post Deployment Health and VA National Center for Ethics in Heathcare, both components of the Veterans Health Administration, cannot avoid sharing in this scandal. 

For Post Deployment Health, the failure is their dedication and creativity in obstructing veterans' exposure claims, even in the face of "as likely as not" medical and scientific evidence. The result of their actions has been the denial of VA medical care to an unknown number of post-Vietnam C-123 veterans.  

For VA's National Center for Ethics in Healthcare, their failure is avoiding action on ethical concerns brought to them regarding patient privacy and other issues. Instead of careful investigation in line with their mission statement, their response was to defer concerns to VA's IG which the Center knew had no jurisdiction, or other buck-passing non-solutions.

Other VA agencies have also failed veterans. VBA's Compensation and Pension Service failed Secretary Shinseki by drafting a crafty, disingenuous and error-ridden response to Senator Burr's C-123 inquiry. This is a perfect example of what General Shinseki meant by trusting in the honor and integrity of those helping him meet the needs of America's veterans.

For VA's Office of General Counsel, their failure is willingness to support Post Deployment Health in obstructing veterans' exposure claims by seizing non-existent authority to redefine fundamental scientific and toxicological terms. OGC, rather than guiding the Department in using the breadth of law and regulation to include veterans, instead created barriers to exclude otherwise eligible veterans. Responding to the Yale Law School brief on C-123 veterans, OGC attacked rather than welcomed legal research and scholarly confirmation of the veterans' eligibility for VA care.

For Veterans Benefits Administration Compensation and Pension Service, their failure is also obstructing eligible veterans' claims for exposure care. From preventing input to the JSRRC body of knowledge, from denying claims on the basis that TCDD (a known carcinogen) is harmless, to refusing to accept scientific and medical input supporting veterans' disability claims, Compensation and Pension has faithfully kept in step with VHA's insistence that "We cannot permit C-123 claims." Faced with scientific argument supporting C-123 veterans' exposure claims, VBA instead contracted for $600,000 to create obstruction and confusion, and also failed to follow its own regulations and honor commitments published in the Federal Register.

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