Trump’s VA Secretary Is Off to a Fast Start

Discussion in 'Politics and Current Events' started by futures2015, Jul 17, 2017.

  1. futures2015

    futures2015 Member Who Talks (A Lot!)

    Trump’s VA Secretary Is Off to a Fast Start

    In Shulkin’s five months on the job, the VA has been a whirlwind of activity:

    • The department announced last week that between President Trump’s inauguration and July 3, it had fired 526 employees, demoted another 27, and temporarily suspended another 194 for longer than two weeks.
    • In April, the department launched a new website that lets veterans compare the wait times at its facilities and view Yelp-style reviews of each facility written by previous patients.
    • Veterans Health Administration’s Veterans Crisis Line — designed for those struggling with PTSD, thoughts of suicide, and other forms of mental stress — is now answering “more than 90 percent of calls within 8 seconds, and only about one percent of calls are being rerouted to a backup call center.” A year ago, an inspector general report noted that “more than a third of calls were being shunted to backup call centers, some calls were taking more than a half hour to be answered and other callers were being given only an option to leave messages on voicemail.”
    • At the end of June, Shulkin unveiled the world’s most advanced commercial prosthetic limb — the Life Under Kinetic Evolution (LUKE) arm — during a visit to a VA facility in New York. Veteran amputees demonstrated the technology, a collaboration among the VA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and the private sector. (The name alludes to the lifelike robotic hand that Luke Skywalker is fitted with in The Empire Strikes Back.)
    • In May, Shulkin said the department had identified more than 430 vacant buildings and 735 underutilized ones that cost the federal government $25 million a year. He said that most of the buildings are not treatment facilities and could profitably be closed or consolidated. Of course, if he actually attempted to close or consolidate some of the buildings, he might face a controversy along the lines of those touched off by military-base-closing announcements in recent decades.

    One particular law designed to make the VA more accountable is arguably the most consequential legislation President Trump has signed so far. It establishes speedier procedures for firing employees, gives the department the authority to recoup bonuses and pensions from employees convicted of crimes, adds greater protections for whistleblowers who report errors and scandals, and expands employee training.

    Now that's what I call kicking ass and taking names ... still work to do, but that's a d@mn good start.

    Shane3, Eric Nahlin, rope4747 and 4 others like this.
  2. TexasPalladin

    TexasPalladin Member Who Talks (A Lot!)

    Love it.

    Semper Fi
  3. Boogieman

    Boogieman Member Who Talks (A Lot!)

    Personally, I have benefited from this intensity and I think Donald J. Trump has proven he is serious about getting this right for the veterans that get hurt in service related situations. I am habitually over six figures per year with healthcare. Without him, I would be in a precarious position because I am not about to pay $7,000 dollar a month for 1 med that will prolong my life by a little when I can provide for my wife long after I am gone. The VA has finally done what it should for me many years ago.

    These primary VA doctors that I have seen are really interested in just being a pharmacy and not being proactive in your healthcare. Still a problem.

    I was on the phone with the VA pharmacy for an hour and a half today. Waiting. I got kicked off 3 times and had to start all over again from the top. They lace the calls with what appears to be a tone for a dropped call. I finally got in so I could get an answer about the meds and they have ordered them. Still a problem.

    If you want to contest a claim or a decision, you are fighting an uphill battle. The appeals are in-house. The DVA, VFW and American Legion aren't advocates for you in this. Writing your Congressmen is a waste. They need to stay in their districts and open to scheduled meetings. Still a problem.

    You are going to have a difficult time getting some upgrade meds as they are non-formulary. The VA operates on a cost basis a lot of the time. If it isn't on the shelf, you are fighting an uphill battle to get something else that works. Still a problem.

    The Veterans Choice program has been good for me. It puts you in the hands of civilian doctors. It's not your choice of who you get to see based on my experience. Others may have had better luck. Not sure how many doctors want to take whatever the VA decides to pay them. As stated, it has worked for me.

    “The rules are so complex, people are so confused, 20 percent of our claims are rejected,” Shulkin recently admitted during a briefing for reporters at the White House. “And that’s much higher that what you’d find in the private sector.” He noted that some doctors and health-care providers are increasingly frustrated with the VA’s ability to get them payments, “to the point that some of them are actually leaving our network.” Still a problem.

    Turning around a governmental bureaucracy is as difficult to turn around an out of control runaway horse or stopping a full speed freight train on a dime. Still a problem.

    ~378,000 employees in the VA system. ~22 million enrolled in the VA system. ~4% of Federal budget is allocated for the VA. ~6 billion a year is wasted or used improperly by the VA each year. 6 billion USD would probably provide private insurance for a half a million veterans. Still a problem.

    The media is indeed not pushing the story of the successes and that lack of push makes changing a bureaucracy even more difficult. New problem.

    The older vets seem to want to hold onto the VA system and the younger ones seem to want outside coverage. I am not sure how to merge the desires. Still a problem.

    The good news is we finally have a President that is willing to actually work hard to correct the VA for the veterans and he has a pretty good man in there he is backing fully....and it is paying off.

    I want our Senators and Representatives to get their healthcare at the VA as well.
  4. TexasPalladin

    TexasPalladin Member Who Talks (A Lot!)

    +1 on the last sentence.

    Semper Fi
  5. Shane3

    Shane3 Member Who Talks (A Lot!)

    Excellent. This story needs more coverage.
    Boogieman likes this.

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