Anyone who is not fuming over the VA situation need read no further. These few words would have no impact on such heartless ingrates masquerading as human beings, so don’t waste your time.
It seems pretty clear that any randomly selected 10 of us could solve most of the problems at the VA in under 24 hours because we have the will to do it. The creators of the problem did not. They were and are a bunch of self-serving bureaucrats with little to no interest in delivering the service for which they are being paid. It’s just that simple. A few of the things I would do were I king:
- Fire every at-will employee and every employee who belongs to a union. Send out notice on a Monday with instructions to return a resignation NLT Friday at noon. This is a one-time good deal. The resignations will be sorted over the weekend, with criminal charges filed on Monday against every employee who did not comply with the instructions. Malfeasance, for starters, up to and including murder and/or manslaughter. Those who resign voluntarily may even reapply for their old or a similar job. Those who do not comply will be permanently barred from any government check.
- Notify every hospital across the nation that they will immediately be considered a VA primary care facility if they wish to apply. The initial application will be pretty much just them calling to say that they want to. Until a proper fee schedule is determined, they will be reimbursed using the current Medicare fees. They can even use Medicare forms until other arrangements are made. There is surely a blank spot somewhere on the form where a note can be made that this is a charge for a veteran.
- Send out word that volunteers are needed at every VA facility in the country. Without training (which might actually be a huge benefit), designated volunteers will acquire some calendars, stubby pencils, and yellow pads of paper, and do a much better job of scheduling appointments than is currently being done. The rest, the volunteers will figure out as they go. It’s what veterans have always done when not hamstrung with a bunch of goofy rules.
That takes care of the first few days of transforming the VA.
There are obviously a lot of things which must be addressed, and addressed quickly, or the VA will continue to kill veterans. The VA is doing things to veterans for which any other business or health care facility would be sued, shut down, or those in charge incarcerated. It must stop immediately. That means that some VA facilities will at least temporarily deliver no health care. Those which have adequate medical staff to deliver medical care should continue to do so, with new appointment schedulers instead of the current gatekeepers who appear to be looking for ways to punish veterans instead of serving them.
One of the most glaring problems at the VA is that it is consistently bureaucrats, not health care professionals, who are determining who receives medical care and who does not. How many clerks would be released to do meaningful work if they did not have to answer the phone to talk with the same vet calling day after day, week after week, month after month trying to schedule an appointment, multiplied by thousands of vets doing the same thing? Whether the clerk talks with someone dozens of times or not, the actual scheduling of an appointment only requires one conversation for it to be made, with perhaps a second conversation to schedule a follow-up appointment at the end of the first scheduled appointment. The follow-up appointment should be as directed by the health care professional. If the doc needs to check something in 10 days, then in 10 days is the only acceptable date for the next appointment. There is no excuse for any other system.
Meanwhile, I am sick of hearing all the folks who were supposed to be controlling this mess continue to claim that they are mad about this and will fix it. Soon. Yeah, well, decades later, you really don’t expect us to believe the lies, do you? Just fix it already! Quit flapping your collective jaws and get the work done. You know what that is, right?
We don’t mean the bare minimum to get by, either. You are being paid to serve us. Every taxpayer has given up something to pay your salary. Every veteran you are being paid to serve was willing to give up even more. For you. Nothing less than excellence in treatment, record keeping and customer relations is acceptable.
This may not be the last you hear about this topic.