Hot Topics in Health Care and Estate Planning: VA CRISIS, DISHONORABLE DISCHARGE OF MANAGEMENT

Each semester that I teach health care administration at Long Island University, graduate school, I try to instill a sense of importance to the students about managing the healthcare of the people that they will serve and how they are taking on the responsibility for people’s lives.  I explain that we are working with and for frail/sick people, not widgets and that these management jobs are not for everybody, as it’s an awesome responsibility.  Well I will tell you that not only is the VA healthcare system sick, but the system is being mismanaged by people who do not realize the higher calling that they undertook.  As an attorney who works with Veterans and as a healthcare administrator, I am disgusted at the mismanagement and response by the VA administration.

Let’s start with the basics.  Last month it was reported in the Arizona Republic that up to 40 Veterans died while awaiting services at the Phoenix VA hospital and that there was a suspicion that some staff members cooked the books and had “secret lists” of people waiting for care.  Then upon further investigation, it was reported that at least 1,700 military veterans were never placed on a waiting list at all and were never even scheduled an appointment.

Then upon further investigation, it was found that Georgia, Texas, Florida and Pennsylvania also had wait time issues and that it is suspected that all 42 VA centers have problems with wait times and lack of scheduling appointments.  Interestingly enough, wait times are tied to bonuses and raises.

The good news is that there is finally something being done with the archaic and broke VA system.  Eric Shinseki, formed Secretary of Veterans Affairs resigned, the Veterans who were “left out” of the system are being sent to private healthcare facilities and we now have Congress calling for further investigations.

However, this is just the very beginning of this crisis, but far from the conclusion.  I go back to my original thought, that the management of healthcare is an awesome responsibility.  Many times you are working with the sick, frail and vulnerable and it takes very special dedicated people.  It is obvious that they need to brush up on their hiring skills.

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  • Michael LaMagna, LNHA, MPA, JD concentrates in the areas of Medicaid and Advanced Asset Protection Planning, Elder Law, Trusts and Estates, Probate and Probate Litigation, Guardianships, Health Care Regulatory Matters, Nursing Home Placement, Long Term Care Insurance, Medicare Appeals, Social Security/SSI Litigation and Special Needs Law. If you have a question for Mr. LaMagna, please call him at (914) 437-5955.