Monday, November 2, 2009

Obama's hypocrisy on Veterans' Care

From Reuters News Agency - March 30, 2007:
President George W. Bush apologized to wounded U.S. troops who endured dilapidated conditions and bureaucratic delays as he toured Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the flagship military hospital.

Bush, in his first visit to Walter Reed since a scandal over health care there erupted in February, met with some patients who had previously been at the outpatient building where the worst conditions were found.

"I was disturbed by their accounts of what went wrong," Bush said. "I apologize for what they went through and we're going to fix the problem."...

Sen. Barack Obama, an Illinois Democrat who is also seeking his party's 2008 presidential nomination, accused Bush of being slow to tackle problems with veterans health care.

"The problems plaguing our military hospital system will not be solved with a photo op," Obama said in a statement. "Our military hospital system is in a state of crisis. Delays and rhetorical band-aids will not move us closer to a solution."
Likewise, the AP reported in June of 2008:
Barack Obama stopped by Walter Reed Army Medical Center Saturday to visit wounded war veterans, a group that he has said endures substandard care under the Bush administration...

Obama has criticized the Bush administration for its treatment of veterans... and has suggested Republican rival John McCain would continue Bush policies if elected.

The administration was roundly criticized last year after it was revealed that veterans at Walter Reed were housed in rundown accommodations and suffered neglectful care. Obama has said the country has failed its veterans by allowing such "second-rate conditions..."

During his remarks later Saturday before [a] Latino group, Obama said "we have to treat our veterans better.""We're betraying what I think is a solemn pact that we make with our veterans," he said.
However, today, the AP reported as follows:
Serious safety issues continued to plague a southern Illinois Veterans Affairs hospital even after major surgeries were suspended two years ago because of a spike in patient deaths, according to a federal report released Monday.

Surgeons at the VA medical center in Marion, Ill., performed procedures without proper authorization, patient deaths were not assessed adequately and miscommunication between staff members persisted, the Veterans Affairs Department's inspector general said in the report, which covers the fiscal year that recently ended...

"To think two years later, after all the promises and investigation, that Marion is still suffering is inexcusable," said Sen. Dick Durbin, a Democrat. "There are some awful things that have occurred there."

He and three other Illinois leaders wrote a letter Monday to Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki demanding a meeting about the facility...

The inspector general's 30-page report said the hospital did not sufficiently monitor 87 percent, or 20 of 23 of its physicians, to ensure they could perform procedures competently. There also were problems with infection control — including a patient with a history of MRSA staph infections wrongly put in a room with two other patients and a shared a bathroom — outdated staff training, and poor medication management and patient data analysis...
The truth of the matter is, Obama's remarks in March of 2007, were right on the mark:

"Our military hospital system is in a state of crisis. Delays and rhetorical band-aids will not move us closer to a solution."