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Obama picks former P&G CEO to be next VA Secretary

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    Obama is set to nominate former CEO of Proctor & Gamble, Robert A. McDonald, for the next secretary of Veterans Affairs. He will be replacing Eric Shinseki, since Shinseki resigned not long ago amid the weight of a healthcare scandal. Actually, he will be replacing interim VA secretary Sloan Gibson technically. How do you think McDonald will do? Anyone have any opinion on this guy?

    The VA is a complete mess and one of the most maddening aspects of our society, to my mind. Whatever you think of our military and our wars and battles overseas (believe me I have negative opinions to fill a room full), the lack of quality care our veterans get when they come back home is a mismanaged disgrace of the worst order.

    Backlogs, back pay, claim denials, people dying from unbelievably long wait lists for proper care, untreated PTSD, homelessness... the list goes on and on. With the billions, nay trillions that we as a country spend on war, a top priority for everyone should be to take care of the men and women that do go into any kind of combat zone. Its literally the least we could do for them, and it really is sad that the Department of Veteran Affairs has been so terrible at it.

    I hope Robert McDonald is a marked improvement. They say he went to West Point. They say he is ideal for the position because he ran one of the largest businesses in the world. That's what they say anyways. But, don't forget, Shinseki was a 4-star general, and he failed.
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    The problem with anyone thinking one person can fix this mess is the fact that it's impossible for one person to fix this mess. The chickens are beginning to come home to roost regarding the hidden costs of our leaders seemingly endless desire to send our kids off to war without thinking about the unknown consequences of their decisions.

    We need to not only confirm a new leader of the VA, but our Congress needs to step up and lead on this issue. The law as currently written hamstrings the VA and our millions of veterans. The most recent change to the law came well before Vietnam veterans were senior citizens, back in 1992. These guys are now senior citizens and require extra care, just like all senior citizens do. Why in the world is the law written in a way that forces veterans to get any and all care at a VA hospital? That is insane and has to change. The only institution that can do that is the Congress. The President can shame them as much as he wants to, but only they can do anything about it.

    A cabinet secretary can only do what the law allows them to do. Shinseki was the fall guy for a problem that our leaders are refusing to address. There are consequences for sending hundreds of thousands of our kids off to war and we are seeing them in full light now.
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    Chicago Tribune: Obama to nominate former P&G CEO Bob McDonald as veterans secretary

    "McDonald is the former chairman, president and CEO of Procter & Gamble, having retired a year ago after 33 years with the Fortune 500 company, where he started as a brand assistant in 1980 and rose through the ranks.

    "Having graduated in the top 2 percent of his class at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, McDonald served in the U.S. Army as a captain, primarily in the 82nd Airborne Division, and received the Meritorious Service Medal."

    Having both a corporate and military background, I would expect MacDonald to be easily approved. But then you never know with this Congress. Because Obama is for someone automatically makes them "suspicious characters" in the eyes of Republicans. We'll see what dirt they can uncover to embarrass Obama.
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    Need heads of agencies that understand how the checks clear and can speak out and raise hell when Congress refuses to provide funding for the public purpose.

    VA has gigantic real problems, like neoliberal performance pay structures that created perverse administrative financial incentives for VA employees to cheat on reported wait times. This led to a real world massacre of veterans that should make us all question what we are going to do with our lives to rid our world of neoliberal ideas that inevitably kill, maim, defraud, and destroy everywhere and time they are implemented. When incentive pay leads to atrocities like this, there is a serious and pervasive problem with our value systems.

    We have a shortage of doctors in this country because of entrance restrictions and our bizarre student loan system. The VA adds further restrictions and paperwork that makes it even more difficult to employ providers. None of that means veterans have to die. The incentive structure interfered with the real work going on. If the real wait times were published and known, personnel could be moved around, adjustments could have been made, etc. And if they failed it could help position our political focus to attack the problems that get in the way of veteran care, etc.

    An Accounting Control Fraud literally killed our veterans without us having a chance to correct any problems. These are the same type of pay structures that create incentives to loot in the private sector, and which drive our recurrent and intensifying financial crises.
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    jaredsxtn Wrote: The problem with anyone thinking one person can fix this mess is the fact that it's impossible for one person to fix this mess. The chickens are beginning to come home to roost regarding the hidden costs of our leaders seemingly endless desire to send our kids off to war without thinking about the unknown consequences of their decisions.
    No doubt completely true. Asking for one man to solve the entirety of the VA's trouble's (especially overnight) is not fair. I agree. But, he will be the one person with the most ability out of everyone affiliated with the VA to do something about the problems. To make a positive change. I guess its akin to being POTUS. Lots of power in many ways, ultimate even in some cases, but limited and restricted by other equal powers that be (Congress, Supreme Court, etc.). Putting too much hope on one man is foolish, no doubt. But, McDonald will have ability and rank to make some actual worthwhile changes.

    You are right about the state of our military. It reminds me of how the world has been collectively ignoring (or choosing to be ignorant about) climate change. Just keep destroying the ecosystem with reckless fossil fuel use and improper waste distribution. Let the next generation worry about it.

    I think there is good news though. With things like the internet, information is spreading and ignorance is being forced out in the open. I think the same can be said for the climate change conversation as with the VA problem. Hopefully, and I do mean hopefully, people realize whats really going on, we take care of the men and women that have already suffered in our many wars, and we act more responsibly and intelligently and with more foresight in the future. But, that's asking for a lot. I am optimistic about the future of humanity in general. But, I do tend to fall toward the 'realism' category more often than not.

    I do hope McDonald brings some positive policy changes to the Dept of VA Affairs.
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    The underlying problem is a shortage of doctors. We can change administrators and processes, but without the doctors to treat patients, there will always be long waiting's just a matter of rationing and deciding who gets to the front of the line.

    AAMC: GME Funding: How to Fix the Doctor Shortage

    "With a growing, aging population, the demand for physicians has intensified, and communities the country are already experiencing doctor shortages. According to AAMC estimates, the United States faces a shortage of more than 91,500 physicians by 2020 —a number that is expected to grow to more than 130,600 by 2025. This shortage is equally distributed among primary care and medical specialties such as general surgery, cardiology, and oncology.

    "To address this shortage, America’s medical schools are increasing their enrollments. However, in order to complete their training and begin seeing patients, new physicians must complete a residency training program, which are in shorter supply."

    "The number of federally funded residency training positions was capped by Congress in 1997 by the Balanced Budget Act. The 26,000 residency positions available for first year trainees will not be enough to provide training for the students graduating from medical school as early as 2016. In addition, Medicare support of graduate medical education (GME) includes paying its share of the costs of training, as well as supporting the higher costs of critical care services, such as emergency rooms and burn units, on which communities rely. Without adequate support, the ability of teaching hospitals to provide essential patient care is threatened."

    Like every thing else, Congress must act by lifting the cap on the number of federally supported residency training positions. Both the House and Senate have proposed legislation to do just that. Here is one of the proposed laws that is stuck in Congress and has a zero chance of passage this year.

    The Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act of 2013 H.R. 1180

    Congress created the problem and Congress can fix the problem...if they have the political will. Obama can do temporary fixes by going around Congress to allow veterans to be treated in private hospitals, but all that does is aggravate the overall doctor shortage.

    Republicans in Congress will never act to fix the problem, especially while Obama is in office. They want failure so they can pin the blame on ObamaCare and Obama. They will do nothing to help the situation.