Health Care

More | | | Editor

Barrow calls for Secretary Shinseki to resign

Wednesday, May 21, 2014 1:37 PM
Last updated Thursday, May 22, 2014 12:49 AM
  • Follow Latest News

Rep. John Barrow called on Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki to resign Wednesday in the wake of reports that 26 VA clinics nationwide, including some in Georgia, are under investigation for failing to provide adequate care for veterans.

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki speaks with the news media on Capitol Hill in Washington.   AP
AP
Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki speaks with the news media on Capitol Hill in Washington.

The Augusta congressman’s staff said they did not know if the Charlie Norwood VA Medical center is among the facilities that the department’s inspector general said Tuesday his office was investigating amid allegations of manipulated wait times, delayed appointments and at least 63 patient deaths.

Pete Scovill, spokesman for the Augusta VA, said he was not aware of the hospital being included in the investigation for delaying endoscopies for more than 4,500 veterans and as a result, contributing to the deaths of at least three cancer patients.

E-mail messages seeking confirmation of the Augusta facility’s involvement in the national investigation produced no immediate replies from the VA’s central office in Washington D.C.

“Secretary Shinseki is a decorated veteran who has served this country honorably, and I’ve personally met him on numerous occasions and found him to be devoted to caring for this nation’s heroes,” Barrow said in a statement. “Unfortunately, this administration has fallen short in providing the kind of care that our veterans have earned. While I don’t think a change in leadership will immediately solve the serious problems that plague the VA, I do think it’s time to give someone else an opportunity to lead the agency and begin the rebuilding process to ensure these issues never happen again.”

Barrow said his frustration comes from a widespread lack of accountability in the VA. The department announced last week that it accepted the resignation of Undersecretary for Health, Dr. Robert Petzel, who already had plans to retire later this year.

In March, The Augusta Chronicle reported that the former chief of staff of the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center, Dr. Luke Stapleton, resigned from the position in 2013 under threat of discipline, but remains a paid employee of the hospital.

Barrow’s assertions come as Congress prepares to vote Wednesday on a bill introduced by Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, that would give the VA secretary greater authority to fire or demote senior executives.

Comments (25) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
harley_52
25117
Points
harley_52 05/21/14 - 01:36 pm
9
2
None Of These People......

...not even General Shinseki is willing to put their finger on the real problem here.....Labor Unions.

No matter what Shinseki (or any other VA Chief) institutes as policy, the employees will simply NOT abide by it. They are protected from management's control by the Civil Service System and by Service Employee Unions. They work at their own pace, they do things as they see fit, and they are beyond control of their supervisors.

Nobody can improve the performance of the VA (or, for that matter, any other federal agency) unless they are given the authority to take adverse personnel actions (including firing) without getting the approval of the Unions.

Democrats won't let that happen, if they have any say about it.

raul
5541
Points
raul 05/21/14 - 01:51 pm
3
4
@Harley, management doesn't

@Harley, management doesn't need the approval of the Unions to take adverse personnel action against employees. What management needs is a well documented case that will support an adverse action taken against an employee when reviewed and decided upon by a third party such as,an arbitrator, the Merit Systems Protection Board, or the EEOC.

harley_52
25117
Points
harley_52 05/21/14 - 02:20 pm
8
2
Raul...

Totally disagree.

In theory, you are correct, but in practice it just doesn't happen.

The entire system is built upon a system of anti-management protectionism. Employees are not fired. They are moved, later to be awarded bonuses and promotions.

Sweet son
11089
Points
Sweet son 05/21/14 - 02:37 pm
4
2
The Veterans Administration is just lost!

The administrators don't administrate and the workers don't work! They are just like MOST of our federal government agencies in that they are overstaffed and under managed. All of this is because of a lack of oversight by anyone.

Should we soon forget the IRS, the Obamacare roll out, the Obamacare help contract worth millions or more, the Bureau of Land Management, the ATF and so many others? I say no!

All federal agencies should be cleaned out from top to bottom because they are full of do nothing 'guvment' employees. They're overpaid for little or no work but are protected by unions which are nothing more than money pits for union bosses.

That's a suggestion but the mindset of the masses will never let it happen.

john
1188
Points
john 05/21/14 - 02:50 pm
5
2
too many

too many civil service employees enjoy using their power or breathing oxygen for 8 hours than actually serve. I have been civil service and have seen it first hand. Discipline is like preparing for court. Its ridiculous.

jimmymac
45720
Points
jimmymac 05/21/14 - 03:02 pm
1
0
VA
Unpublished

They should abolish the VA and give the vets cash to get private medical and prescription care. Billions are spent on staff overhead instead of the care of the vets. We own the vets for their service but instead they've created another government bureaucracy beholden to no one. To think that staff has been getting bonuses while vets are dying should merit jail time.

jimmymac
45720
Points
jimmymac 05/21/14 - 03:04 pm
1
0
BARROW
Unpublished

Problems were reported at The Augusta VA hospital and why wasn't Barrow stirring the pot then. Couldn't be election politics could it?

itsanotherday1
46989
Points
itsanotherday1 05/21/14 - 03:25 pm
6
2
Been there done that too

Been there done that too John. Wayyy back when I was a union steward at DDEAMC, I saw this; and then I woke up.

Unless things have changed, Harley is spot on. I also did a few year stint at VA. I know what I saw with my own eyes, which was a lot of sloth. Apologies to those VA employees who work hard; you get painted with the same brush and you don't deserve it.

harley_52
25117
Points
harley_52 05/21/14 - 03:23 pm
5
2
Many Don't Serve...

...their goal is to survive in their jobs long enough to retire, doing as little work as possible.

Civil Service regulations and labor unions help them achieve that goal.

harley_52
25117
Points
harley_52 05/21/14 - 03:55 pm
5
2
I Don't Really Like....

...General (R) Shinseki. When he was Chief of Staff of the Army, he had the hairbrained idea to put all soldiers in black berets. It went over like a lead balloon and was a tremendous waste of time, money, and effort. I think he did it as a legacy kind of thingie...it failed miserably. However.....

People don't achieve four star rank by being either timid, or stupid. I have no reason to believe he is incapable of running the Veterans Administration, if it is runnable. Given the size of the organization, its systemic problems, its bad habits, and the overwhelming constraints imposed by Civil Service regulations and labor union lethargy, I don't see it improving no matter who they put in charge.

We desperately need to change the laws that tie the hands of management and end up encouraging the inefficiency and ineffectiveness of the entire federal bureaucracy to be revamped.

With democrats in charge, I see little hope of improving anything.

itsanotherday1
46989
Points
itsanotherday1 05/21/14 - 04:17 pm
3
2
Harley

I have suggested several times that the VA Medical system should be allowed to wither on the vine. Either pay incoming military more money in exchange for no lifetime medical, and they provide their own insurance after separating; or commit to provide them with lifetime medical insurance after separation. It could be tiered coverage as they have now, with the highest priority tier having low or no copay/deductible, the next having higher copay, etc.

As a veteran, what do you think, considering the sorry state of affairs we have seen for too many years in that system?

harley_52
25117
Points
harley_52 05/21/14 - 04:23 pm
2
3
IAD....

I'd be in favor of privatizing the VA for sure, though with Obamacare in the offing, there's really no options to privatize anything anymore. In the long run, the VA will fade away as veterans are just absorbed into the Obamacare system where everybody, not just veterans, will be receiving some variant of what we now call Medicaid.

studmuffin1533
305
Points
studmuffin1533 05/21/14 - 06:13 pm
3
2
Congress' Fault

Congress funds the VA. Congress's failure to properly fund the VA is the problem. Calling for Shin's resignation is a distraction, blaming an honorable man for a problem rooted in the halls of an ineffective congress is simply asinine.

On the other hand, I know of many vets getting millions of $$$ in medical care for illnesses that are not service related. If it were not for the VA, these folks would not be getting any health care. Similar to the mess taxpayers are in.

harley_52
25117
Points
harley_52 05/21/14 - 06:41 pm
5
2
If Anybody Thinks....

....the poor performance and deceitful performance of V.A. employees is unique to the V.A. they are sadly mistaken. Such behavior is rampant within the federal government, not just with government employees, but also with contractor personnel who perform many governmental activities under contract with the various governmental agencies.

Rampant.

And the solution is NOT to just throw more money at it. That's been the solution for decades. The entire process needs to be reformed, streamlined, and budgets CUT.

We waste hundreds of billions of dollars every year for disgraceful to mediocre performance from millions of employees (including, but surely not exclusively V.A. employees).

VA DOC
56
Points
VA DOC 05/21/14 - 06:49 pm
2
0
Spokesman NOT aware

Yes Mr. Scovill the IG is investigating your VA-it would be a pleasant surprise to see the spokesman actually let the public really know what is happening there.

slowrider
179
Points
slowrider 05/21/14 - 07:48 pm
1
1
federal death spiral

There are good people at these federal institutions. However, there is just no incentive to efficiently work. The Union powerbrokers absolutely coddle low average, to low functioning employees. It kills the entire outfit. It would never, ever be tolerated in a private medical office.

The only hope, and I do mean ONLY hope, is to begin to tie reimbursement to objective, tangible work based metrics with comparable civilian hospital workloads.

A salaried employee in health care is just a disaster. I have done it for 14 yrs, and it will not end well. It will never save money... It will never break even.

Riverman1
90653
Points
Riverman1 05/22/14 - 05:15 am
7
1
Was Barrow's Granddad At The VA?

I'm just waiting to see how Barrow is going to work his Granddad's gun into this.

Bizkit
34390
Points
Bizkit 05/22/14 - 07:56 am
1
1
What a Democrat asking for

What a Democrat asking for accountability for another phony scandal? I thought the party had rid themselves of blue dog Dems. Congress just approves the President's budget-the President and his secretary fund and run the VA.
"The President’s 2015 Budget includes $163.9 billion for VA in 2015. This includes $68.3 billion in discretionary resources and $95.6 billion in mandatory funding. Our discretionary budget request represents an increase of $2.0 billion, or 3.0 percent, over the 2014 enacted level." So studmuffin blame Obama if it is underfunded-he could use discretionary funds. Remember too that every day Obama will over spend (deficit-spending) over 2 billion dollars a day to meet his expected 750 billion deficit mark for this year. Obama could use that deficit spending at his discretion to fund the VA. Money isn't the problem-the problem is Obama was made aware of the problem (reminds me of Bush warning Congress of the mortgage crisis three times and Dems ignored him)and didn't address it. He promised in his speeches to address the problems with the VA, but I guess he lied again. He didn't do doodle. He is incompetent at best. Obama has never done his job as "our" president but because he is an ideologue he has "his own agenda" and damn the rest of it.

nocnoc
47281
Points
nocnoc 05/22/14 - 07:54 am
2
1
Why is it

Career Politicians always seem to wait until re-election time to do the right thing?

nocnoc
47281
Points
nocnoc 05/22/14 - 07:58 am
1
1
while on the Subject if Poor Treatment of Veterans

I remember (1960'++) this typical for our Federal Gov. to provide such tinkle poor treatment to our vet's after every war, conflict or police action.

The Fed can build $$Billion Dollar aircraft, but never seems to ever fund the VA correctly to take careful those that fought its battles.

Dixieman
16595
Points
Dixieman 05/22/14 - 09:11 am
2
1
Barrow actually said something?

Must be an election year. Oh, yeah, it is....
And Barrow never served a day in the military.

harley_52
25117
Points
harley_52 05/22/14 - 10:20 am
1
1
"The Fed can build $$Billion Dollar aircraft....

....but never seems to ever fund the VA correctly to take careful those that fought its battles."

Funding is not the issue.

It's easy to throw more money at it, especially money that isn't real, but money won't solve the problems. The bureaucracy is the problem, including unions and civil service rules.

WalterBradfordCannon
1490
Points
WalterBradfordCannon 05/22/14 - 11:58 am
0
1
Both of Barrow's parents were

Both of Barrow's parents were WWII vets in the VA system until their deaths in 2000 and 2009.

Pond Life
17682
Points
Pond Life 05/22/14 - 12:54 pm
1
0
Small pet peeve. VA stands
Unpublished

Small pet peeve. VA stands for Veterans AFFAIRS, not ADMINISTRATION.

Pond Life
17682
Points
Pond Life 05/22/14 - 12:56 pm
2
0
The same government running
Unpublished

The same government running the VA is the one that the liberals want to run healthcare for EVERYONE.

The Mick
827
Points
The Mick 05/22/14 - 04:42 pm
0
0
Classic election year Barrow.

Classic election year Barrow. He gets right of center and outraged at government abuse every 2 years. I hope Mr. Allen is training hard to box in a debate with this Harvard educated lawyer. It is gonna be hard because he will be debating 2 faces.

harley_52
25117
Points
harley_52 05/22/14 - 05:36 pm
1
0
" He gets right of center and outraged at government abuse....

.... every 2 years."

Lindsey Graham is on the 6 year schedule.

The Mick
827
Points
The Mick 05/22/14 - 09:16 pm
0
0
Indeed Harley. But I can't do

Indeed Harley. But I can't do anything about Lindsey Graham as a GA resident

Darby
28388
Points
Darby 05/22/14 - 11:26 pm
1
0
"The same government running the VA

is the one that the liberals want to run healthcare for EVERYONE."

.
Yes, Pond, it's the same SINGLE PAYER system that OzBama, Harry Reid and Nasty Pelosi have said time and again is the ultimate goal for the horribly misnamed AFFORDABLE Care Act.

When the Government IS the Single Payer, the inevitable result is long and longer wait times for care, resulting in skyrocketing health problems and deaths. (Leading to "Death Panels", planned or unplanned.)

Unlike Global Warming, or Climate Change, the Single Payer healthcare debacle REALLY IS SETTLED SCIENCE.

Back to Top

Top headlines

Georgia Regents' hospital plan chosen

Georgia Regents Medical Center won a lengthy and hardfought battle over two other Augusta hospitals to build the first hospital in Columbia County, the Georgia Department of Community Health ...
Search Augusta jobs