It was merely an “administrative error.”
Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care System Director Sharon Helman was awarded an $8,500 bonus, even while her operation was under investigation for falsifying patient wait times and possibly causing the deaths of 40 veterans.
The bonus has now, after much publicity, been rescinded.
Sadly, the veterans who died in a fraudulently inefficient system cannot be brought back to life.
The hefty bonus money adds cruel insult on top of a much more serious injury — one we now know extends far beyond Phoenix. The investigation has spread to 26 facilities.
Major veterans organizations demand that Veterans Affairs Secretary Shinseki resign, or that the president (who once again discovered the crisis from media reports) replace him. That’d be a logical first step, signaling in deeds, not just words, that folks will be held accountable.
The personnel changes shouldn’t stop there. And those guilty of fraud should also face criminal charges.
Still, some gloss over this scandal. Montana Senator Jon Tester says Shinseki should stay and that the VA has done a “remarkable” and “a pretty darn good job.”
A Washington Post editorial played down the scandal, noting that “Delayed treatment has been an issue for decades.”
The Post is half-right. The problem of this federal healthcare bureaucracy shortchanging vets is certainly not new.
But Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) is 100 percent right. The Navy vet and doctor, with years of VA experience, wants to offer vets a choice between the VA or a voucher to pay for their private care.
It’s a solution aimed at protecting the vets who need care, rather than the VA bureaucracy.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.