In spite of our differences, one thing Americans should be able to agree on is that our veterans deserve quality healthcare in return for their service to our nation. Many come back from overseas deployments with an array of physical as well as mental injuries and illnesses. To ask men and women to be prepared to make the supreme sacrifice for our nation, and then to fail them when they need care is utterly unacceptable.
The Veterans Administration is an enormous bureaucracy with thousands of offices. The waste that must go on in such an organization is no doubt staggering. Considering the importance of one of the the agency’s missions, that of caring for the health needs of our veterans, it is vital not only to reduce waste, but also to eradicate any unethical or criminal activities that might be going on within the VA. In fact, that is just what is now in progress.
Could employees of VA hospitals and clinics in effect be running an illegal drug racket? The Associated Press reports that, “Federal authorities are stepping up investigations at Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers due to a sharp increase in opioid theft, missing prescriptions or unauthorized drug use by VA employees since 2009… Doctors, nurses or pharmacy staff at federal hospitals – the vast majority within the VA system – siphoned away controlled substances for their own use or street sales, or drugs intended for patients simply disappeared.”
No doubt opioids command a high price on the street, and if your costs are zero because you stole the drugs yourself from your employer, the government, then your profit margin is infinite. It’s a profitable business model except that it’s obviously illegal.
But shouldn’t the absence of these drugs turn up during periodic inventory checks? Again, from the Associated Press: “Aggravating the problem is that some VA hospitals have been lax in tracking drug supplies. Congressional auditors said spot checks found four VA hospitals skipped monthly inspections of drug stocks or missed other requirements. Investigators said that signals problems for the VA’s entire network of more than 160 medical centers and 1,000 clinics, coming after auditor warnings about lax oversight dating back to at least 2009.”
“Lax oversight going back to at least 2009” – isn’t that date an interesting coincidence?
Government agencies are not controlled by the profit motive. Hence they do not operate under the same constraints as businesses do as relates to being both efficient and effective in carrying out their missions. While a business with wasteful or unwise expenses might eventually fail and be liquidated, government agencies just return to the trough to get more funding. This tends to breed inefficiency that requires special oversight even in the best of circumstances.
The increased investigations into these alleged thefts is good news indeed. Yet it points out the unique need to provide aggressive and honest oversight of government programs and agencies since the free-market cannot do that work for us. This is not easy, and it demands integrity on the part of those doing the oversight. Yet it is a task that must be done. In this case, our veterans’ healthcare demands it.
Source: Hot Air