One of the hallmarks of the Obama administration was its utter servility to the various factions of the Democrat base. If fostering the #BLM resulted in dead cops and riots, who cared so long as the right advocacy groups were appeased and, in turn, delivered votes on election day. But no place was this more obvious than in the management of the VA where the desires of the public employee unions routinely trumped veterans’ health care requirements.
The VA has never been a paragon of caring or efficiency. In fact, if you like ‘single payer’ health care and want to see what it would look like in America, look at the VA. But under Obama, the levels of incompetence and disinterest in patient welfare hit their peak. Despite hundreds of whistleblowers and dozens of investigations the VA resolutely refused to fire or transfer officials documented to have engaged in egregious misconduct and Arabian levels of inefficiency.
For instance, this Office of Special Counsel report:
The Department of Veterans Affairs on Tuesday promoted an official who worked to cover up the outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease at the Pittsburgh VA Healthcare System.
The VA named David Cord as the next director of the Erie VA Medical Center. Cord has been the deputy director of the Pittsburgh System, where 16 veterans were stricken with Legionnaires’ disease — an aggressive form of pneumonia.
How about this, the Justice Department going to court on behalf of the woman running the scandal-racked Phoenix VA Medical Center:
The former director of Phoenix veterans hospitals who was at the center of a 2014 wait-time scandal scored a major legal win this week, shooting down sections of a law allowing the Department of Veterans Affairs to quickly fire misbehaving employees.
U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Tuesday that the law fast-tracking firings is unconstitutional because VA employees cannot appeal a final decision by an administrative judge.
Lynch and President Barack Obama’s administration have sided with Sharon Helman, who is suing in federal court over her 2014 termination from the VA for accepting a trip to Disneyland and other gifts.
Admittedly, firing federal employees takes time and some management attention but the Obama administration went beyond the call of duty and actually protected and rewarded the most callous and incompetent people in the VA medical system.
There is a glimmer of sunlight in the eastern sky in the person of VA administrator David Shulkin. When Shulkin was nominated I put it down to Trump having decided that the VA was too much to take on along with taxes, health care, Russia, North Korea, trade, jobs, etc. Far from being a placeholder selected to keep the misconduct tamped down, Shulkin is looking to be a game changer in the VA. He used a particularly egregious example of employee misconduct (here) to publicly press for Congress to make it easier for him to remove the multitude of substandard people who have attached themselves, barnacle-like, to the hull of the VA. Via Daily Caller:
The Department of Veterans Affairs removed the director of the D.C. medical center from his position Wednesday mere hours after a scathing inspector general report indicted the facility for dangerous conditions.
Brian Hawkins, the now-former medical center director, was placed on administrative duties.
“The Department of Veterans Affairs thanks the OIG for its quick work reviewing the D.C. VAMC,” the VA said in a statement. “The department considers this an urgent patient-safety issue. Effective immediately, the medical center director has been relieved from his position and temporarily assigned to administrative duties.”
In a “different spanks for different ranks” environment, the center director getting the heave-ho and a replacement being brought in from outside the center to fix stuff is a seismic event. In the past, center directors have received rewards after being outed for inefficiency and misconduct and this ethos permeates the VA. The people lower down have to be thinking that if the system is willing to fire the in-group they may receive short shrift.