The VA has been overpaying clerks, administrators and other support staff an internal audit revealed while Vets suffered and some died because of a doctor/nurse shortage. Millions of dollars were wasted that could have been used to ease the doctor/nurse shortage.
The auditors flagged 13,000 VA support staff who appear to have had inflated salaries and this has been the case for 14 years!
When officials at the VA discovered this two years ago, they halted the internal review mandated by federal law.
The overpayments come to over $24 million.
This follows a congressional hearing yesterday in which whistleblowers testified about retaliation when they tried to deal with the abuses at the VA. Some of the abuses were criminal.
Carolyn Lerner, special counsel with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel in currently investigating 67 cases of retaliation and there are many more coming in.
Lerner said her office has been able to block disciplinary actions against several VA employees who reported wrongdoing, including one who reported a possible crime at a VA facility in New York.
Instead of using information provided by whistleblowers as an early warning system, the VA often “has ignored or attempted to minimize problems, allowing serious issues to fester and grow,” Lerner told the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing. Worse, officials have retaliated against whistleblowers instead of investigating their complaints, she said.
Jose Mathews, the former chief of psychiatry at the St. Louis health care system, told Congress that after he tried to point out problems at the VA to his senior management he was removed from his position and detailed to another assignment while an administrative investigation was initiated.
“I was told I was spending too much time with veterans,” Mathews testified. “They already professionally assassinated me.”
Christian Head, the legal and quality assurance associate director at the Veterans Affairs Los Angeles Health Care System, said he was also a victim of retaliation.
“I was labeled a rat,” Head said, adding there is a “cancer” within the VA’s leadership that perpetuates the idea that employees should be silent. “We should stand up and do the right thing.”
The scandal began with the revelation that there were double lists of patients being kept; one list was ignored.
There are reports of mental health patients waiting 7 or 8 years for help.
Some health professionals took information from dead persons’ charts to fill out forms, making it seem as if they saw the patients.
They did this for a bonus that was put in place by former VA Secretary Eric Shunseki.
If that isn’t evil, I don’t know what qualifies.
Read more at the Huffington Post