Politics

Rick Scott Wades into VA Hospital Storm

By: Kevin Derby | Posted: May 13, 2014 3:55 AM
Rick Scott and Eric Shinseki

Rick Scott and Eric Shinseki

With the federal Veterans Affairs department under fire for problems with hospital management across the nation, including a well-publicized case in Phoenix where 40 veterans died waiting for care while the VA hospital altered lists to hide the long waiting time, Florida politicians are weighing in as VA Secretary Eric Shinseki is planning audits at all VA facilities.

As national media reports continue to emerge on problems in VA hospitals and Congress turning up the heat, Shinseki is now planing to launch face-to-face audits at VA facilities across the nation. Last week, VA officials told CNN Shinseki was planning to start the audits. In the meantime, the Republican-controlled House is starting to investigate the matter. Last week, a House committee demanded records on the Phoenix VA facility deaths. 

Even as the Republicans continue to put pressure on Shinseki, the White House looked to defend the VA secretary. Josh Earnest, the White House deputy press secretary, insisted President Barack Obama continues to value Shinseki’s leadership.

“The president continues to have complete confidence in Secretary Shinseki,” Earnest told the media Thursday. “I’d point out the secretary himself is somebody who has bravely served this country and he’s a West Point graduate and somebody who is obviously also a veteran. Secretary Shinseki is hard at work and shares the president’s passion and commitment for making sure that we live up to the commitments that have been made by this country to our veterans. And that is something that is a top priority of the president’s, and he has full confidence in Secretary Shinseki as he takes on the daunting task of making good on so many of those commitments.

“I would say -- point out a couple of other things,” Earnest continued. “The VA did announce in the last couple of days that there were some personnel actions that were taken at the Phoenix VA facility while there’s an ongoing investigation into what’s actually happened there. I’d refer you to the VA for the details of those actions.

“I know that there’s also been tremendous progress that’s been made by the VA in reducing the claims backlog -- that that backlog has fallen tremendously,” Earnest concluded. “But there’s a lot more work to be done. We’re not going to be satisfied until that backlog has been eliminated, and we’ve got quite a bit of work to do before that’s happened. But we have turned that tide. It’s moving in the right direction. And that’s a testament to the efforts of a lot of people across the administration, including Secretary Shinseki.”

With leaders from groups like the American Legion calling for Shinseki’s resignation and House Republicans waiting on the findings of an inspector general’s report, the situation shows signs of becoming a political hot potato. Gov. Rick Scott weighed in on the matter on Monday. Scott, who served in the Navy, was involved in hospital management, including leading HCA/Colombia.

“While federal Veterans Affairs officials continue to shut out the light of transparency at their facilities across the country, they have today announced the worrisome notion that they will ‘audit’ themselves,” Scott said. “This announcement comes after federal Veterans Affairs hospitals here in Florida have shut out our state inspectors from auditing six different federal hospitals on six different occasions. Why has the federal Veterans Affairs department now decided to ‘audit’ itself after mounting problems have been uncovered all across the country? The brave men and women who fought and served so admirably deserve the benefit of an independent thorough review that will get to the bottom of the death reports here in Florida and around the U.S.”

But Shinseki continues to have the support of other Democrats besides the White House. U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Fla., continues to defend Shinseki from her perch on the House Veterans Affairs Committee. 

“As a senior member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, I strongly support Secretary Shinseki and his leadership of the Department of Veterans Affairs,” Brown said on Friday afternoon. “.No veterans should ever go without the health care they deserve, but it is important to not just focus on anecdotal problems but to look at what the secretary and the VA have accomplished.

“The VA operates 1,700 sites of care, and conducts approximately 85 million appointments each year, which comes to 236,000 health care appointments each day,” Brown continued. “The latest American Customer Satisfaction Index, an independent customer service survey, ranks VA customer satisfaction among veteran patients among the best in the nation and equal to or better than ratings for private-sector hospitals. Since its peak in March of 2013, the VA has reduced the benefits claims backlog by nearly 50 percent, on track to eliminate the backlog in 2015. VA has also implemented an automated electronic claims processing system to better serve veterans into the future. In 2013, VA paid out $66 billion in compensation claims to 4.5 million eligible veterans.”

Brown also pointed to expanded coverage for veterans impacted by PTSD, Agent Orange and Gulf War Illness under Shinseki’s leadership. She also cited operations to reduce the number of homeless veterans and expand the GI Bill in Shinseki’s tenure. 

“The VA provides quality, timely health care to our veterans,” Brown said. “We have a duty to make sure that all those who have defended this country when called upon ... receive the care they have earned through their service. I support the secretary in his nationwide access review and look forward to hearing his report when it is finished.”



Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com.


Comments (8)

and the answer is
5:42AM MAY 14TH 2014
Back to: William
8:07PM MAY 13TH 2014 - who said:
"I don't have any reason to doubt VA Secretary Shinseki's sincerity. However, Gov. Scott has a very valid point. How do you "audit" yourself."It almost seems like the VA would be better getting an outside agency.

This sounds like what a normal person would think is the truth. Unfortunately it is totally void of any facts what so ever in the real world of government. Rick Scott is the king of self investigations!

They passed laws creating Inspector Generals and for law enforcement they call the "IA's" Internal affairs! And you can believe they keep them internal when at all possible!

Since 1998 in the state of Florida every government agency either has their own [IG] Inspector General or as with the counties the Clerks of the Circuit Courts have the auditors for county financial audits. All well connected to each other. In fact most are paid directly from the agency they are supposed to be hired to investigate.

Who is going to investigate themselves right out of a job?

Every time a government agency has a problem of any kind that is brought to the attention of the public "they audit themselves" and 99.9% of the time that auditor releases a white washed report of no wrong doing!

And perhaps even worse is the Florida laws that allow law enforcement agencies to "investigate themselves" and their officers for a period of six months during which time the names of any official officer suspects of wrong doing are top secret and can not be released to the public for a period of six months.

Rick Scott has used this modern method of control of issues on several occasions including the fire in the trash can in his former Lt Gov Jennifer Carrol's office and allegations brought against her and other employee's of his like McNamara his first Chief of Staff and his present chief of staff Hollingworth who has been caught lying about his education on more than one occasion. Self investigation is the method they all use to gather up the facts - find out what all the witnesses have to say, then just make it all go away in one nice neat package.
William
7:07PM MAY 13TH 2014
I don't have any reason to doubt VA Secretary Shinseki's sincerity. However, Gov. Scott has a very valid point. How do you "audit" yourself. It almost seems like the VA would be better getting an outside agency. Isn't that what the GAO is for?
JimS
12:36PM MAY 13TH 2014
The real scandal is those Served have yet to Sacrifice, DeJa-Vu all over again:
The same lawmakers now subpoening, and with their flag waving patriots(?) supporting, that rubber stamped the two wars, and all related, costs off the books and on the credit card, quickly abandoning the missions and those sent after 9/11, while doing extremely little for not only the veterans of but also us previous veterans and from the decades and wars before, while once again under a conservative led VA, DeJa-Vu!!

“Why in 2009 were we still using paper?” VA Assistant Secretary Tommy Sowers “When we came in, there was no plan to change that; we’ve been operating on a six month wait for over a decade.” 27 March 2013
WHY? GOOD QUESTION THOSE SERVED SHOULD ANSWER!

Conservative Veterans Affairs Ideology, Fire Gen. Shinseki

Just what the conservative, in this case the Always reactive and not proactive for vets, the legion, with their grossly over paid executives, ideology wants, Get rid of one that's doing the job and in this case with help from the entire cabinet, hired to do, just as the conservatives in congress want,

"If military action is worth our troops’ blood, it should be worth our treasure, too" "not just in the abstract, but in the form of a specific ante by every American." -Andrew Rosenthal 10 Feb. 2013

They were Jubilant when conservatives controlled congress and the bush fired the General for being Honest, now their call is being picked up through one of the so called established Veterans organization the American Legion! All were praising the VA during that time, of total conservative control, even though extremely little was being done as the long ignored veterans issues were still being ignored while two more wars, and long occupations from, were being rubber stamped as to costs, still unpaid for, and these younger veterans were joining our veterans community seeking the commitment the Country promises and the Country waved flags, and other symbols, of that 'patriotic' commitment only, DeJa-Vu all over again! Their long want is to privatize government agencies for corporate profit, much more costly, and unregulated running of, just like their national security wars!

TX-19 Congressional Candidate Neal Marchbanks - Veteran: 28 March 2014 - "Congress controls the budget for the VA and it is the fault of Congress that the VA does not have enough employees and that the facilities are too small."
Congress, in Veteran Marchbanks statement, are the people served and who representatives work for, or are supposed to!

"12 years also is a long time. We now have a lifetime responsibility to a generation of service members, veterans and their families." Dr. Jonathan Woodson 11 Sep. 2013: 'With 9/11 Came Lifetime Responsibility' {two tax cuts, especially huge for the wealthy, with not a bit of guilt conscious for, came with these two recent unpaid for wars, nor the results of, DeJa-Vu all over again from the previous decades and wars from! Ignore the many issues, by those served, no need to fund!}

USN All Shore '67-'71 GMG3 Vietnam In Country '70-'71 - Independent
John Sipos
12:09PM MAY 13TH 2014
It was perhaps 7 or 8 years ago, Colonel William H. Miller, survivor live fire WWII, Korea, 2 tours in Vietnam, along with countless other assignments — he died at what is now, the CW Bill Young VA Hospital in Bay Pines (St. Petersburg, Fl). There's a countdown part to this story that I will not impose on you here; those interested can find it online. But on the day he died, an inpatient at Bay Pines VA, he issued an urgent appeal for a doctor to attend to him immediately. He had been a witness to death, and he had formally studied the symptoms of death; he knew the process of death was at hand. Bill was not crying wolf, he knew he needed a doctor right there and then. He repeatedly issued that appeal all day long. No help came. By the doctor arrived at his side that night, it was too late. This story started some weeks earlier when he complained to me over breakfast that the day before he felt very sick over what he believed was an overdose of that radioactive dye (whatever it is) prior to images of his insides were taken. Over the following days and weeks, while still active, the Colonel knew he had been injured by that process. Sensing the end was approaching, our last breakfast together the day before admitting himself to Bay Pines, he very matter of factly offered just before we parted — "John, this is the year of my mortality." I protested, "No, Bill, you can't die until I've had a chance to interview you (for broadcast)." He laughed, but repeated, "No, John, this is the year of my mortality." With or without that doctor arriving at his bedside, perhaps it was his time certain, anyway. But it was just short of criminal that a man who had for more than 40 years fought and defied death countless times on battlefields and jungles around the world for his country; when he needed that doctor, the VA (His Country) was not there for him. John Sipos, a talk journalist on Tampa Bay in Florida. If someone wants to talk to me, and wants an introduction to Bill's now retired Army General son, call. 727-432-1322 cell.
C-breeze
8:59AM MAY 13TH 2014
Rep Corrine Brown (D-5th) [a slim, snake-shaped, gerrymandered (embarrassingly-so) District running from Jacksonville all the way to Orlando]. Brown is an ELEVEN term, "guidance counselor (kinda like a 'community organizer)", "travel agency owner (which is necessary JUST to get from one end of her 5th District to the other)" ; AND she is a loquacious pettifogger of the first order. Brown is complicit in the VA Hospital debacle merely by her malfeasance during her 11 term "attachment to the government mammary". One of the results of her "gerrymandered existence (as well as that of Debbie Wasserman Schultz) was the ousting of Allen West, who would never have allowed this "VA Hospital debacle" get so far and hurt so many veterans. Surely, the Voters in Florida can do MUCH better than Corrine Brown, DWS, Jeff Miller (7th term District 1, Veteran's Affairs Chairman), Bill Nelson [Armed Services Committee], and others sharing the 'government mammary' in Washington, D.C. SUPPOSEDLY representing Florida; HOW ABOUT IT VOTERS ?
privatize privatize privatize
7:58AM MAY 13TH 2014
Yea! Rick Scott smells blood in the water here! Rick Scott-Richard Rainwater-Jeb Bush-Miguel Recarey-Miguel (Mike) Fernandez.

With just a little help from the "really powerful elites" they will be able to fix these monstrous VA Hospitals problems. They will be glad to privatize them and bring them up to standards.

I would be willing to bet just like their Florida Private Prisons movement for their friends (Corrections Corporation of America and the GEO Group)
They probably already a group or groups standing in wait to privatize the nations Veteran's Hospitals. Most likely that is why no mention was made of the Veteran's Hospitals or bringing the veterans in to the ObamaCare Health care take over.
Ronald Kimball
12:46PM MAY 13TH 2014
If you would take off your blinders, you would see no one is wanting the VA Privatized. What we do want is these VA hospitals run correctly. When Shinseki was a General, he would have fired the people under him that pulled something like this. Now that he is an appointed politician by a democrat POS, he wants to hide the problem.
people like you are the blind ones
5:22AM MAY 14TH 2014
Get your head in the daylight! They create problems in order to find solutions that fit into their schemes. Rick Scott and his Jeb Bush team have already privatized ever juvenile prison in Florida. They have privatized 18 vendors through DCF and call them lead agencies:

Florida Department of Children and Families - Community-Based Care Programs
What Is Community-Based Care?
Community-Based Care is a comprehensive redesign of Florida's Child Welfare System. It combines the outsourcing of foster care and related services to competent service agencies with an increased local community ownership of service delivery and design. This innovative statewide reform increases accountability, resource development, and system performance.

Program Description: The department's community-based care initiative has captured the interest of the nation by actively negotiating and contracting with respected local, non-profit agencies to provide child welfare services in their local communities for children who have been abused, neglected and/or abandoned. Communities coming together on behalf of their most vulnerable children demonstrates what community-based care was designed to do: transition child protective services to local providers under the direction of lead agencies and community alliances of stakeholders working within their community to ensure safety, well-being, and permanency for the children in their care..

This innovative new system includes key features that address common problems and challenges in child welfare systems, such as;
• Contracting with, local lead agencies through competitive procurement to engage community stakeholders in designing their system of care, and to develop and maintain a service delivery network within their service area.
• Formation and support of Community Alliances of local stakeholders, community leaders, client representatives, and other agencies funding human services. An Alliance may cover one or more counties, as determined locally. Duties of Community Alliances include, but are not limited to joint planning for resource utilization, needs assessments and establishment of community priorities, determination of local outcome goals supplemental to state outcome requirements, and community education and advocacy.
• A formal process was developed for assessing and preparing local Department units and Lead Agencies to safely transition services from the state to the local provider network. The Department's Readiness Assessment process utilizes an external team of Peer Experts to assess the development of the local infrastructure and transition plans, as well as provide technical assistance to both parties prior to initiating transfer of any services.

A statewide network of comprehensive, community-based care agencies have been equipped to manage and deliver services to Florida's foster youth. Authorized providers are listed here:
1- Lakeview Center, Families First Network- FISCAL 2014 – $33,596.216.02

2, 14-Big Bend Community Based Care, Inc - FISCAL 2014 - $64,534,470.65

3 & 8-Partnership for Strong Families - FISCAL 2014 - $25,399,082.70

4- (Duval, Nassau)-Family Support Services of North Florida Inc. - FISCAL 2014 - $42,239,360.82

4- (Clay)-Kids First of Florida, Inc- FISCAL 2014 - $6,082,268.90

7- (St. Johns)-St Johns County Board of C C - FISCAL 2014 – NOT FOUND!
7- (Flagler, Volusia, Putnam)-Community Partnership for Children, Inc- FISCAL 2014 - $25,090,065.02

6- (Pasco, Pinellas)-Eckerd Community Alternatives FISCAL 2014 – NOT FOUND!
12- Sarasota Family YMCA, Inc - FISCAL 2014 - $23, 270,143.77

13- Eckerd Community Alternatives – FISCAL 2014 – NOT FOUND!
20- Children's Network of SW Florida - FISCAL 2014 – NOT FOUND!
5- Kids Central, Inc - FISCAL 2014 - $38,044,028.81

9, 18- (Orange, Osceola & Seminole)-Community Based Care of Central Florida- FISCAL 2014 - $50,434,383.05

10- Heartland For Children- FISCAL 2014 - $34,814,751.36

18- (Brevard)-Brevard Family Partnership - FISCAL 2014 – NOT FOUND!
15, 17- ChildNet Inc. - FISCAL 2014 - $85,609,584.73

19- Devereux Families Inc. - FISCAL 2014 - $12,529,102.50

11, 16- Our Kids of Miami-Dade/Monroe - FISCAL 2014 -$81,627,240.80

And if not for a few good honest law makers in 2011 the would have instigated the largest state prison privation in the USA using their old friend George Wakenhut's new named company THE GEO GROUP and the TN - CORRECTIONS CORPORATION OF AMERICA.

Along with this Rick Scott wanted to privatize the state hospital's including the mental hospital at McClenney.

And people like you are either to dumb to see this or you are in on the take with them one or the other!

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