Texas VA Run Like A ‘Crime Syndicate’ Claims Whistleblower

Texas VA Run Like a “Crime Syndicate” Claims Whistleblower (Liberty Blitzkrieg, May 28, 2014):

“For lack of a better term, you’ve got an organized crime syndicate,” a whistleblower who works in the Texas VA told The Daily Beast. “People up on top are suddenly afraid they may actually be prosecuted and they’re pressuring the little guys down below to cover it all up.”

What’s worse, the documents show the wrongdoing going unpunished for years, even after it was repeatedly reported to local and national VA authorities. That indicates a new troubling angle to the VA scandal: that the much touted investigations may be incapable of finding violations that are hiding in plain sight.  

– From the excellent Daily Beast article published yesterday: Exclusive: Texas VA Run Like a ‘Crime Syndicate,’ Whistleblower Says

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past week or so, you are probably well aware of the latest in a consistent stream of scandals that have rocked the Obama Administration since he took office over five years ago. Yes, I am referring to the Veterans Affairs (VA) scandal, and while you might think you have read enough on the topic, the following article is very important.

It tells the tale of a VA hospital in Texas that had institutionalized the practice of manipulating hospital wait lists many years ago. For example, all the way back in 2011, the VA’s inspector general investigated the Central Texas health-care system in response to complaints received. Despite finding that such manipulation was rampant, not a single VA official was disciplined. As you might expect, the practice continued and the hospital highlighted in this article actually received an award in the face of an OIG investigation!

As such, this story has much wider implications than the obvious one. It demonstrates why corruption, fraud and white-collar crime is metastasizing throughout the land. The rich and powerful have recognized the rule of law has been completely suspended when it comes to them. They realize that no matter what they do, the worst thing that will happen is a slap on the wrist. So they continue to eagerly commit crimes at every conceivable opportunity. Of course, it’s the crimes of the rich and powerful that affect the largest number of people, not the impoverished youth slinging a dime bag on some ghetto corner. But which one is getting locked up?

As I have said time and time again, this suspension of the rule of law for the so-called “elites” is the most cancerous thing pervading American society at the moment. Dealing with this will go a long way to solving a lot of other problems.

From The Daily Beast:

Last week, President Obama pledged to address allegations of corruption and dangerous inefficiencies in the veterans’ health-care system. But before the president could deliver on his pledge, the scandal has spread even further. New whistleblower testimony and internal documents implicate an award-winning VA hospital in Texas in widespread wrongdoing—and what appears to be systemic fraud.

Emails and VA memos obtained exclusively by The Daily Beast provide what is among the most comprehensive accounts yet of how high-level VA hospital employees conspired to game the system. It shows not only how they manipulated hospital wait lists but why—to cover up the weeks and months veterans spent waiting for needed medical care. If those lag times had been revealed, it would have threatened the executives’ bonus pay.

What’s worse, the documents show the wrongdoing going unpunished for years, even after it was repeatedly reported to local and national VA authorities. That indicates a new troubling angle to the VA scandal: that the much touted investigations may be incapable of finding violations that are hiding in plain sight.  

“For lack of a better term, you’ve got an organized crime syndicate,” a whistleblower who works in the Texas VA told The Daily Beast. “People up on top are suddenly afraid they may actually be prosecuted and they’re pressuring the little guys down below to cover it all up.”

The current VA scandal broke in Phoenix last month, when a former doctor at a VA hospital there became the first whistleblower to gain national attention. The doctor’s allegations of falsified appointments—and veterans dying while they waited for treatment—unleashed a wave of similar claims from VA employees nationwide. In Cheyenne, Wyoming, Chicago, and Albuquerque, more VA whistleblowers came forward claiming that the same fraudulent scheduling was being used in the hospitals where they worked. At last count, the VA inspector general’s investigation had expanded to 26 separate facilities.

Though VA hospitals may be struggling with increasing patient loads and inadequate resources—including too few medical providers—they are punished for acknowledging those problems. The VA’s current system appears to reward executives’ accounting tricks that mask deep structural issues and impede real solutions.

Sounds a lot like our entire financial system.

According to Spann, Dr. Gordon Vincent, chief of radiology at Olin E. Teague Veterans Medical Center in Temple, Texas, didn’t just break VA policy by manipulating veterans’ appointments himself. He ordered VA employees across central Texas to engage in the same fraudulent practice.

The VA said it investigated Spann’s charges, and, after, finding nothing to substantiate the claims, cleared Vincent and the Texas VA.

We arrest someone every two seconds in America, largely for non-violent drug possession charges, yet the real criminals roam free to feast on society with zero repercussions.

But documents obtained by The Daily Beast appear to show Dr. Vincent doing precisely what Spann accused him of—the activities the VA said it could not substantiate.

By changing the desired date, Dr. Vincent, a VA section chief, was violating well-established scheduling rules detailed in an official VA memo from April 2010 and re-emphasized in a separate policy directive from June of that year. But forging veterans’ desired dates seems to have been widely considered a low-risk, high-reward form of cheating. Changing the dates made it seem as if patients were being seen within the prescribed 14-day window, which reflected well on the hospital and put its staff in line for bonuses.

For the veterans seeking care, however, it had no such benefits.

Anyone caught doing this to veterans should be locked up for decades.

The document described above is only one piece of evidence in a larger docket against Vincent, which is itself part of a larger record of corruption in the VA that extends far beyond Vincent or any one individual. In 2011, the VA’s inspector general investigated the Central Texas health-care system in response to complaints it had received. The inspector general found that manipulated appointments were widespread and hid significant delays, but the report doesn’t seem to have led to a single VA official being disciplined or officially held responsible for gaming the system. 

“I saw the press release saying it wasn’t Vincent or any of the executives, that the schedulers were entering the desired dates incorrectly but they were not directed to do so by management. That’s just not true and we’ve got mountains of evidence proving it,” the clinician told The Daily Beast.

“Every doctor, nurse, and clerk in the hospital knows it’s true, but the VA’s investigative team wasn’t able to find any evidence,” the clinician said. “They didn’t interview any of us or really try to find out what was going on. This was reported in 2011 and it’s still not fixed today.”

The Central Texas management parroted the inspector general’s findings when the hospital applied for a “Robert W. Carey Performance Excellence Award.” According to the clinician, in the hospitals award application they actually listed as an accomplishment that they had found “front line staff” incorrectly using desired dates in the scheduling process and fixed the problem. It must have been convincing. Despite the OIG investigation, the hospital won the award.

What does it say that a VA hospital with this many complaints has not only avoided an accounting—but actually received awards?

It tells you all you need to know about the state of affairs across virtually all institutions and multi-national corporations. As I have said many times before, the primary driver of U.S. GDP at the moment is corruption, fraud and criminality.

Full article here.

In Liberty,
Michael Krieger

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