While Obama pledges to address allegations of corruption and negligence in the veteran’s healthcare system, the scandal continues to grow daily. Before Obama could deliver on his pledge, the scandal has spread even further with new whistleblower testimony and internal documents implicating an award-winning VA hospital in Texas with widespread wrongdoing, and what appears to be systemic fraud and blatant neglect for patients health and well being.
VA memos and emails obtained exclusively by The Daily Beast provide what is among the most comprehensive accounts yet of how high-level VA hospital employees conspired to game the system. It shows not only how they manipulated hospital wait lists, but revealed it was to cover up the weeks and months veterans spent waiting for needed medical care. If those lag times had been revealed, it would have threatened the executives’ bonus pay and possibly their jobs.
The documents show the misconduct going unpunished for years, even after it was repeatedly reported to local and national VA authorities. That indicates a new troubling angle to the VA scandal: that the VA may be incapable of finding violations of its own rules that are hiding in plain sight.
“For lack of a better term, you’ve got an organized crime syndicate,” a whistleblower who works in the Texas VA told The Daily Beast. “People up on top are suddenly afraid they may actually be prosecuted and they’re pressuring the little guys down below to cover it all up.”
The current VA scandal broke in Phoenix last month, when a former doctor at a VA hospital there became the first whistleblower to gain national attention. The allegations made by the doctor of falsified appointments — and veterans dying while they waited for treatment — unleashed a wave of similar claims from VA employees nationwide. In Cheyenne, Wyoming, Chicago, and Albuquerque, more VA whistleblowers came forward claiming that the same fraudulent scheduling was being used in the hospitals where they worked.
There’s enormous pressure to report favorable wait times for VA patients, the Texas whistleblower explained, even if those wait times are completely false.
The VA whistleblower, who provided The Daily Beast with the records implicating Dr. Vincent, works as a medical provider for sick veterans. “It’s plain and simple common sense,” the clinician said, “every delay in a patient’s diagnosis is an injury. The more severe the veteran’s condition, the worse the injury caused by the wait as the disease is allowed to progress.”