Local opinion columnists

Let’s get right to the point

By From page A8 | June 23, 2014

The is the latest of a series of topical columns titled The Right Stuff to promote thought and ensure accuracy within political campaigns and issues. Our objective is to promote interest among voters to separate fact from opinion or fiction. It is time for voters to demand representatives who promote the founding principles of our country at every level of government.

Most Americans are now aware of shocking tragedy that is defined as health care by Veterans Affairs. The resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki is symbolically correct, but that organization has developed a culture of failure; replacement of many ranking officials will be necessary to assure even moderate success.

First, let us review basic undisputable facts.

  1. Beginning in 2005 the VA inspector general has issued 19 reports documenting excessive wait time for patients. Do not blame partisan politics; Obama and staff saw those reports, but so did Bush and his staff, and so did Congress.
  2. Congressional reaction has been typical. Approve more VA funding without evaluating the cause of the problem. In nine years the VA budget has increased 76 percent ($52.3 billion from $32.5 billion) while veterans seeking care increased only 18 percent. Typically, no measure of results or identification of failures was asked by Congress.
  3. In 12 years, VA headquarters staffing increased from 800 to 11,000.
  4. Only 1 of 435 VA executives in 2012 received less than a fully satisfactory rating.
  5. Only two VA executives were fired in the past two years.
  6. Eight executives facing disciplinary action were allowed to resign or retire in lieu of disciplinary action.
  7. Bonuses (typically $9,000 to $12,000 each) were paid to numerous employees with documented poor performance. The extreme was a regional director given the Presidential Distinguished Rank Award with a $63,000 bonus after documented poor performance.
  8. Performance pay ($150 million total) was given to 80 percent of 22,500 medical care providers in 2011. The General Accounting Office in 2013 noted no link between performance bonus pay and the individuals’ performance.

VA headquarters apparently applied pressure to subordinate units to correct the delayed service and now we have a study in the “law of unintended consequences.” A well-known axiom is that subordinates dislike reporting their own deficiencies so they devised a second and secret list to track claimants beyond the 14-day objective.

The Veterans Administration (now the Department of Veterans Affairs) was merged from smaller units in 1930. It has become the nation’s largest integrated health care system until the development of “Obamacare” under the Affordable Care Act. Its substandard health care has been no secret for years. I have a friend who lost a 45-year-old cousin in 1998 because of incompetence in a VA hospital.

Now apply logic.

If the U.S. government cannot efficiently operate a large health care system after 84 years of experience, is it not time to admit failure? If the U.S. cannot operate the VA system effectively, why does anyone think it can operate a national system that is much larger and more complex?

Since every nation’s attempts at government health care have failed to exceed the American product, why think the U.S. should adopt those failed methods and destroy everything we have? Before anyone jumps on my last statement, I concede some nations have exceeded us in specific measurements, but not one comes close to overall success, i.e., development of pharmaceuticals, availability of major treatments, recovery rate from serious infections, etc.

The silver lining of the VA issue that it hopefully will encourage thinking voters to kill Obamacare before it kills us. Ask your representatives why they favor a failed health care concept.

Jim McCully is a Vacaville resident and member of The Right Stuff Committee, a committee of the Solano County Republican Party. Reach him at [email protected]

Jim Mccully


Discussion | 8 comments

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  • Danny BuntinJune 23, 2014 - 5:02 am

    The VA has the highest rated healthcare system among public or private care. "The silver lining of the VA issue that it hopefully will encourage thinking voters to kill Obamacare before it kills us.". All that writing just to upend ACA.

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  • Mike KirchubelJune 23, 2014 - 6:46 am

    Jim, a great, level-headed article, until your ending conclusion, of course. Lots of facts to help us understand the problem, but it falls apart when you "apply logic." I agree that Obamacare could be so much better, but it moves us slightly towards the goal of universal healthcare. You mention you know a person who died because of incompetence in the V.A. system. That's a tragedy, but the larger tragedy is the tens of millions of Americans who do not have healthcare at all, or the hundred million who pay through the nose yet still lack quality coverage. There is much work to be done in this area and hopefully all sides can sit down and discuss it without calling each other names and sticking to extremist positions. Hopefully you will be taking the reins on this "Right Stuff" column away from the likes of Earl and Rod, who can't seem to think of anything that Fox News hasn't told them over and over and over again, and blame Obama for everything from Iraq War II to the Great Recession. Thanks, again for stepping up to the plate. Now, if we could only find someone to step up on the Progressive side every other week....

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  • JagJune 23, 2014 - 8:42 am

    Stop repealing Lets just simply take away the mandatory part of the bill and the whole thing blows up and goes away.

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  • mike kirchubelJune 23, 2014 - 12:09 pm

    I agree, no mandatory sign up, every American has healthcare, period. Your Social Security card is your healthcare card.

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  • JagJune 23, 2014 - 12:19 pm

    Excellent twist,,,, Fantastic job.,,, Bravo… but still heath care is a privilege not a right,,

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  • PornacJune 23, 2014 - 3:29 pm

    Those folks over there don't get care, let them die.

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  • JagJune 23, 2014 - 3:56 pm

    No pornac, mike and I got off on a side subject about Obama care in general, No one is going to die we have emergency rooms.

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  • Vato BlancoJune 23, 2014 - 5:42 pm

    Mr Buntin is correct, VA healthcare gets the highest marks for patient satisfaction, compared to all other healthcare systems in the US. Please don't destroy a system that just needs fixing. The amount of needy patients has grown much faster than the budget of the VA. Here in Northern California, we are fortunate to have very few of the problems that have surfaced in Phoenix, and elsewhere. Only the Livermore facility did not pass the recent audit. As a Veteran, dependent on this system, and a happy patient, I can tell you I, and many other Veterans, rely on this care as our only healthcare. Unless you have a system that is significantly better, don't close this system down.

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