The AFGE is Fighting Improvements to VA Health Care System
The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) and its unionized workforce continue to operate with immunity from accountability for their incompetence, unethical practices, and nefarious activities that have proven fatal for some veterans. The VHA’s glaring inadequacies and corrupt practices are a cautionary tale for anyone who favors socialized medicine. However, there are people, including Hillary Clinton, and organizations such as the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) who choose the status quo and self-interest over the health and welfare of America’s veterans.
The Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 (VACAA) was passed as a response to the scandal surrounding the number of days veterans wait for an appointment at a VA facility. The legislation provides for the following:
- Requires the VA to offer an authorization to veterans to seek non-VA care, if the veteran is unable to obtain an appointment at a VA facility within 30 days, or resides more than 40 miles from the nearest VA facility.
- Requires the VA to provide a Veterans Choice Card to eligible veterans to facilitate care provided by non-VA physicians and hospitals.
- Provides $10 billion to cover non-VA care.
The AFGE does not approve of allowing veterans to access treatment in the private sector. The union views private sector health care as a threat to its existence because veterans who obtain medical care from non-VA physicians and facilities might compare non-VA care to VA care and come to the conclusion that the private sector is more accessible, and the care is much better than government health care; this has the potential to lead to a downsizing of the VHA, or worse, an expansion of the VA Choice Program that allows all veterans to opt for private sector medical care.
The VACAA also authorized the VA to fire or demote senior executive service (SES) employees and Title 38 SES equivalent employees for poor performance or misconduct. The legislation provides an “expedited and limited appeal process for employees disciplined under this authority. Appeals will go to a Merit Systems Protection Board administrative judge, who will have 21 days to decide on the appeal.” That’s right; fed gov employees can appeal a demotion or termination.
The VA Choice Program and expanded VA authority to fire and demote VA bureaucrats are enough to send the leaders of the AFGE into hysterics, but it is something else in the VACAA that is causing an enormous amount of stress at AFGE headquarters; the charter for the Commission on Care (VACC). The VACC is responsible for assessing the current state of the VHA and making recommendations for improvements. The AFGE considers the VACC a credible threat to its VA members, so it is spending a considerable amount of time and effort demonizing it through propaganda and lies.
A few weeks ago, the VACC released its final report on its independent assessment of the VHA. The commission did not recommend privatizing the VA, but the AFGE claims otherwise.
You will find the following description of the VACC on AFGE’s website:
Congress’ VA Commission on Care has been rigged against veterans from the start. It is stacked with for-profit, pro-privatization hospital executives who have called for shutting down VA hospitals and selling out veterans’ health care and your job to the lowest bidder. We must stand together and urge lawmakers to keep the promise we’ve made to veterans for their sacrifice.
The statement is pure fiction. Yes, there are members of the commission who are hospital executives, but there are also physicians and veterans, including the Executive Director of Disabled American Veterans (DAV), David W. Gorman, who sit on the commission. Gorman is one of six members who are veterans. The members of the commission did not recommend shutting down any VA hospitals, or selling VA jobs to the lowest bidder. The AFGE’s statement on the commission is designed to illicit a panicked response from its members and reinforce the worth of the union.
The AFGE is waging a campaign to fight any proposed improvements to the VA health care system. The union is distributing propaganda to its members to frighten them. Fear can be a great motivator, in this case, it can be used to keep union dues flowing to fund the unproductive, useless jobs of the AFGE leadership and their subordinates. The dues are also used to make donations to Democrats; these donations buy votes to maintain the status quo. Thus far, in 2015-2016, the AFGE has redistributed $1,191,314 in union dues to Democrats.
The AFGE ignores the numerous problems that plague the VHA. You will not find any mention of VA wait times or any other VA problems on AFGE’s website. Why not acknowledge that there are problems and propose solutions? What can you expect from an organization that does not acknowledge that a week ago the president of AFGE Local 1119, William Davis, was indicted and sentenced to 15 months in prison for embezzling approximately $150,000 of the union’s funds? Davis stole the union dues of 300 VA employees who work at a VA Hospital in Montrose, New York. Curiously, the AFGE chapter of Montrose maintains offices on the hospital’s campus. How does a public union procure office space in a federal building?
The AFGE does not care about veterans; it cares about collecting membership dues. Its primary focus is on a political system that allows it to buy politicians as a means of preserving the status quo. The swindlers who work for the AFGE and the politicians who receive campaign donations from the union are the only people benefiting from the existence of the union; this is why the AFGE fights against any proposed improvements to the VA health care system.