Memphis Scandal Gets National Attention; None Here

More scandal about the VA hospital here in Memphis has emerged. A story broke at the Daily Caller and last night got covered on the O’Reilly Factor as well.

It didn’t get covered by the newspaper.

Not surprising, huh? Whenever something bad comes out about the Obama administration, the CA is quick to cloak it in the most bland way possible. There will be an innocuous headline that readers will shrug off, but never anything scathing.

Yesterday the Daily Caller reported:

The Memphis Veteran Administration (VA) Medical Center approved over $1 million in bonuses months before closing a therapeutic aquatic pool citing a lack of funds.

The Memphis VA Medical Center handed out $1,005,644 in bonuses for its approximately 2,000 employees in fiscal year 2010, according to data provided to The Daily Caller by Sandra Glover, the communications officer for Veteran Integrated Services Network (VISN) 9, which includes the Memphis VA Medical Center. Glover told The DC that cost factored into the decision to close the therapeutic aquatic pool in July 2011.

In a statement prepared for The DC, Glover said that bonuses and capital improvement projects come from separate pools of money, and that the VA outsources aquatic care to veterans at VA expense.

“The Memphis VA Medical Center is committed to honoring veterans with safe, high quality, accessible care earned through their service to the country,” the statement reads. “By law, funds for specific purposes cannot be used for anything other than what they’ve been appropriated for. It is a management decision to consider the cost benefit of maintaining programs and services within the organization.”

“No veteran has been denied services as a result of the closure of the therapeutic pool closure,” the statement continued. “Any patient that requires aqua therapy as a result of their plan of care will be referred to an accredited aqua therapy program in the private sector at VA expense.”

Two whistleblowers told The DC the statement is disingenuous because the VA routinely denies veterans’ request for aqua therapy care, claiming the therapy isn’t covered by their plans. One whistleblower, who is also a veteran, said they know this first hand because their coverage was denied for aqua therapy and they are currently paying out of pocket.

This occurrence got the ire of Bill O’Reilly on his O’Reilly Factor last night. He spoke with legal analysts Lies Wiehl and Kimberly Guilfoyle.

The O’Reilly website summarized:

“According to Wiehl, no laws were broken because money is specifically allocated to bonuses and technically can’t be used for operational costs. She reported that one of the whistleblowers told her the pool is drained and filled with filed cabinets. Guilfoyle affirmed this was gross mismanagement by the VA, but that nobody will be brought up on charges.

The Factor voiced frustration, saying Gen. Shinseki should have killed the bonuses and dealt with the pool instead. He said one way or another, we’re going to get that pool filled.”

O’Reilly is right to be outraged. What is the point of having a VA hospital if the right kind of treatment isn’t given?

Perhaps I am a little harsh on the CA. The editorial page gave the VA scandal a token nod. “Traumatized vets need more help” read the editorial. However, it went on about its own story of one vet they had profiled, U.S. Marine Paul Oliver. His story was more about the toll that the war took on him than the VA hospital. All they reference at the end is: “As the VA scandal roils, it is becoming clearer that the department that is supposed to be helping these young men and women adjust to life after war is ill-prepared to help them.” That’s it.

I should add that the journalists who are supposed to be helping citizens know what’s going on are ill prepared to help them and even unwilling to.

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