Mitch Perry Report 6.10.14: The VA situation is worse than imagined

The C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center at Bay Pines is among 110 Veterans Affairs  facilities listed for additional review in an auditor's report about the problem with waiting lists for veterans trying to get medical care. The report says that the Young facility had 1,193 patients who signed up for appointments in the past decade without getting one. 

Overall the report found 57,000 veterans have been waiting more than 90 days for an appointment and that an additional 64,000 requested medical care but never made it onto VA waiting lists. So what's next, after former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki's head figuratively rolled a week and a half ago?

First interim VA secretary Sloan Gibson says he'll spend $300 million to increase hours for VA medical staffers and contract with private clinics to see veterans who are unable to get care through VA medical centers. He also says he's eliminated the 14-day scheduling goal for VA appointments, which apparently was unrealistic in the first place and led to some of the secret wait lists that have come to the country's attention.

Well, Congress is getting involved. A bill sponsored by Vermont Independent Bernie Sanders and John McCain will pump approximately $500 million into the VA health care system to pay for more doctors and nurses. GOP House leaders say they'll vote on a bill this week that would allow veterans to seek immediate care from doctors and private medical centers closest to them (something that Bill Nelson told me "is already happening" when CL asked him about that request by Congressman David Jolly and others).

In other news… Hillsborough County's transit agency, HART, may or may not change its configuration this year in advance of preparing a sales tax referendum for transit (and road) projects in the future. A meeting yesterday did nothing to clear that up.

Although the news that Rick Scott's former health care company was fined a record amount for Medicaid and Medicare fraud is relatively old news, the Florida Democratic Party knows there are some people who don't know that, hence their new web ad.

And are Pinellas County Commissioners prepared to sell away some of their water supply? A challenger to the board says yes; Commissioner Ken Welch says no.


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