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Recent USA Today Article Gives Behind-The-Scenes Look at VA

by Gavin P. Smith

A new behind-the-scenes look at the VA appeared in a recent USA Today article entitled Probes of Veterans Health Care Often Not Released to Public. What we don’t know is often more troubling than what we do know!

In this recent story, they discuss the behind-the-scenes probes that occur regarding the VA that we are often not told about. It is bad enough that there are issues that the public learns about. It is much worse to learn that what we know is just the tip of the iceberg.

“It is impossible to know how many of the investigations uncovered serious problems without seeing the reports, but all concerned VA medical care provided to veterans or complaints of clinical misconduct.”

Why are these not released?  The VA once again is falling back on a familiar tune.  The VA inspector general claims that personal reputations could be damaged and out of a respect for privacy the information cannot be released.

In the recent Camp Lejeune CAP meeting in Atlanta on January 15th, CAP members pressed the VA on the so-called SMEs (Subject Matter Experts) involved in deciding Camp Lejeune contamination claims.  Specifically, the members want the VA to name and identify these SMEs to the public in order to vett their expertise and promote transparency.  The VA has refused this request for Lejeune based on the same privacy premise as outlined in this USA Today story.  Even generic data, such as educational backgrounds, expertise, years of experience, etc. has been refused to be released.

Who are these SMEs involved in deciding the fate of Camp Lejeune contamination claims? What do they truly know about the chemicals and health conditions regarding Lejeune?  What have they been told or instructed to consider when evaluating claims?

If the VA can get away with not naming their SMEs for the public record, so too can the USDOL and DOD.  All of the other agencies undoubtedly are watching the VA and mimic their activity with regards to Camp Lejeune.

With over 96% denial rate of claims so far at the VA, we deserve to know the “experts” involved in making these decisions that come after long periods of time and impact lives indefinitely.

Link to the full USAToday story: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2015/03/08/probes-of-veterans-health-care-often-not-released-to-public/24525109/



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