Comments: VA

And yes, sensible people know the right way to fix these problems is to starve the VA of money and staff and cut back on benefits.

After all, you can't mess up what you're not responsible for.

Umm..Anne, what facts support that claim?

In Bush’s first four years funding for the Veterans Administration increased 38%.

In the eight years of the Clinton administration the increase was 31.7%

Those figures include mandatory spending for payments to veterans for service-connected disabilities, over which Congress and Presidents have little control.

But President Bush (and Congress) has also increased the discretionary portion of veterans funding even more than the mandatory portion has increased. Discretionary funding under Bush is up 30.2% while under Clinton the growth was almost zero in real terms.

When the VA announced a $1B shortfall earlier, the President and Congress added $1.5B in the supplemental (Public Law 109-54) that including authority to "roll over" the funds beyond the fiscal year.

As for benefits, this crop of Congressional delegates from both parties are in competition to outdo each other in terms of giving benefits. I believe the administration had a proposal to increase drug co-pays by a $ 1 and that proposal gets called a "cut." As a one day future "veteran," I'm sympathetic to some of the bureaucracies and inconsistencies in receiving benefits and care. However, the benefits are still very generous on the whole.

As for the stories..

The second story is sad in that the woman had neither family/friends to assist nor apparently had taken steps before incapitation to prevent being reliant on public guardianship.

The VA, like many other public (and even private) organizations, often puts too much faith in technology, especially human resource software programs. The military has a similar problem in failing to appreciate the need in many cases for a "human in the loop" to catch special circumstances (such as the disabled soldier having a portion of his enlistment bonus garnished because the program only detects the soldier did not "complete" his enlistment). Additionally, organizations, especially large ones (before DHS I believe VA was the 2d largest agency), will have its share of indifferent, incompetent, or poorly trained people. Unfortunately, government and union regulations often allow these first two categories of folks to remain in the system.

Posted by Col Steve at November 17, 2005 02:13 PM

Drat. I knew someone was going to nail me on that.

I don't have the bookmarks any more, but I recall that I had a site or two bookmarked for quite a long time that talked about "apparent" budget numbers versus what really happened with the money. And there was another one that showed that current budget numbers weren't what Bush originally wanted, that the budget(s) passed were higher than his original suggestions.

I'll poke around and see if I can find them. (Happens every time. I keep bookmarks for a year or more and never need them. If I delete them, they become vitally important merely days later.)

Posted by Anne at November 18, 2005 09:14 AM