Hidden horrors at the VA

What could be worse than tax delinquent employees at the IRS getting big performance bonuses?  How about the director of the VA hospital in Phoenix getting a $9,000 bonus after at least forty military vets died waiting for treatment at her facility… a horror kept secret by deleting their names out of the hospital database?

News of the bonus comes from the Washington Free Beacon: “Last year, Sharon Helman, the director of the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care System, got a $9,345 bonus, in addition to her annual base salary of $169,900. Overall, leadership at the hospital was paid more than $700,000 in taxpayer money, according to publicly available salary data.”

News of the secret waiting list for treatment comes from CNN:

At least 40 U.S. veterans died waiting for appointments at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care system, many of whom were placed on a secret waiting list.

The secret list was part of an elaborate scheme designed by Veterans Affairs managers in Phoenix who were trying to hide that 1,400 to 1,600 sick veterans were forced to wait months to see a doctor, according to a recently retired top VA doctor and several high-level sources.

[…] Dr. Sam Foote just retired after spending 24 years with the VA system in Phoenix. The veteran doctor told CNN in an exclusive interview that the Phoenix VA works off two lists for patient appointments:

There’s an “official” list that’s shared with officials in Washington and shows the VA has been providing timely appointments, which Foote calls a sham list. And then there’s the real list that’s hidden from outsiders, where wait times can last more than a year.

“The scheme was deliberately put in place to avoid the VA’s own internal rules,” said Foote in Phoenix. “They developed the secret waiting list,” said Foote, a respected local physician.

The VA requires its hospitals to provide care to patients in a timely manner, typically within 14 to 30 days, Foote said.

According to Foote, the elaborate scheme in Phoenix involved shredding evidence to hide the long list of veterans waiting for appointments and care. Officials at the VA, Foote says, instructed their staff to not actually make doctor’s appointments for veterans within the computer system.

Instead, Foote says, when a veteran comes in seeking an appointment, “they enter information into the computer and do a screen capture hard copy printout. They then do not save what was put into the computer so there’s no record that you were ever here,” he said.

Foote, whose account was confirmed from multiple sources by CNN, says everyone at the Phoneix VA was upset by this little scheme… but they all went along with it.

“I feel very sorry for the people who work at the Phoenix VA,” said Foote. “They’re all frustrated. They’re all upset. They all wish they could leave ’cause they know what they’re doing is wrong.

“But they have families, they have mortgages and if they speak out or say anything to anybody about it, they will be fired and they know that.”

Until now, administrations at the Phoneix medical center have “flat-out denied” that the waiting lists were tampered with.  Congress is ramping up investigations.  CNN reports that the undersecretary of health for the VA told House  Committee on Veterans Affairs chairman Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL) that he was unaware of the secret waiting list in Phoneix, while Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) is calling for emergency hearings, and Senator John McCain (R-AZ) fired off a letter to Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki demanding answers.  American Legion National Commander Daniel H. Dellinger called the secret waiting list “one of the most abhorrent acts ever committed in VA history.”

By all means, let’s trust bureaucrats implicitly, reward them with huge bonuses, and give them even more control over our lives.  I’m sure there’s absolutely no chance this sort of thing will happen when the unelected, unaccountable IPAB “death panels” of ObamaCare start rationing out health care.