Phoenix V.A. Hospital Mess May Prove Actual Distraction From Benghazi

There's just nothing funny about the incredible clusterfuck unfolding at thePhoenix Veterans Administration Hospital (autoplay video at link), where as many as 40 vets may have died while waiting to get care, and it also appears that administrators tried to cover up the mess by shredding files and faking records to hide the delays in providing services. You've got some people calling for the resignation of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki; the House Committee on Veterans Affairs has subpoenaed communications related to the mess, and Shinseki has ordered an audit of every VA health facility to find out if Phoenix is an outlier or the tip of a very bad iceberg. So instead of trying to find funny, maybe we'll just settle for pissed off?

First off, there's that "maybe 40 deaths." The story broke back in April (again, autoplay video) when Florida Republican Jeff Miller first called attention to problems at the Phoenix VA hospital, saying that the hospital kept fake records to hide the delays in treatment. How solid a number is it? Nobody knows yet; the number originated with Dr. Sam Foote, who compiled a list of "22 vets who died while on an electronic waiting list for appointments, and 18 more who died while on waiting lists for consultations with specialists." He has since clarified that he didn't believe there was necessarily a causal relationship between the waits and the deaths -- for someone with a terminal illness, for instance, getting assigned to a primary doctor or specialist may not have made a difference in the outcome, although getting some goddamn care would have been good, yes? But we have no doubt that Fox is hard at work converting "died while on a waiting list" to "died because of being on a waiting list" for every single one, because they care.

It also appears that some of the delays in Phoenix resulted from a VA initiative last year to standardize appointments and record-keeping as part of an effort to reduce delays -- the problem, according to a GAO investigator, Debra Draper, was that the new procedures actually resulted in more chaos because of unclear policies and poor training. It even looks like some of the faked records resulted from an attempt to meet performance goals, so that administrators could get bonuses. Gotta love those incentive programs.

Happily, into this huge clusterfuck comes expert clusterfucker Allen West to save us -- He just wants everyone to know that the real issue is still Benghazi, and maybe he's willing to let the VA mess be a scandal too, but mostly he's angry that Barack Obama has been talking about those kidnapped Nigerian girls, because why would a bunch of foreigners be more important than Benghazi, and maybe the VA if it gets some traction?

So what better time than right now, to create the straw man of Boko Haram, another distraction for which no real action will take place. Anyone remember Joseph Kony? ... Gotta give it to the Democrats, they know how to make life imitate art. Sadly, as a nation we're falling for another episode of liberal progressive "Wag the Dog."

It's awfully good to know that, in uncertain times, you can always count on Allen West to add something to the stupidpile.

[Arizona Republic / Arizona Republic again / MediaMatters]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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