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Fri Dec 30, 2016, 03:57 AM

Can We "Privatize" the VA Without Jeopardizing National Security?

Serious questions. Appreciate your thoughts. Seems to me that if veterans---especially those with PTSD or other mental or physical problems that occurred as a result of military action-----have their care outsourced to private docs, a lot of sensitive military secrets suddenly will be recorded on less than secure electronic medical records. The insurers who administer the so called "private" VA will also demand access to records. Those insurers will also be vulnerable to hacks.

What if patients tell their non VA docs about secret missions? What if non VA docs learn about secret weapons? All of that information would then be available to the same Russians who hacked the election. Is this the real reason Trump has been so hot to "privatize" the VA? He will not be president long---and Russia will no longer have access to his security briefings. But if the VA is disbanded and the work outsourced to the private medical community, Russia could have an entirely new database to mine for secret information about our national security.

VA mental health records could also be exploited by domestic right wing terrorists who want to recruit. They could use what they learn to target veterans, taking advantage of their illness. Or by threatening to blackmail them. "We'll tell everyone what you did in the war of you don't do what we say."

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Arrow 29 replies Author Time Post
Reply Can We "Privatize" the VA Without Jeopardizing National Security? (Original post)
McCamy Taylor Dec 2016 OP
radical noodle Dec 2016 #1
jberryhill Dec 2016 #4
radical noodle Dec 2016 #5
Elwood P Dowd Dec 2016 #20
AmericanActivist Dec 2016 #2
A-Schwarzenegger Dec 2016 #3
bearssoapbox Dec 2016 #6
SleeplessinSoCal Dec 2016 #7
cstanleytech Dec 2016 #8
denbot Dec 2016 #9
queentonic Dec 2016 #10
SammyWinstonJack Dec 2016 #16
Turbineguy Dec 2016 #11
hunter Dec 2016 #15
Turbineguy Dec 2016 #22
madokie Dec 2016 #12
Lee-Lee Dec 2016 #13
Lee-Lee Dec 2016 #14
McCamy Taylor Dec 2016 #21
Lee-Lee Dec 2016 #26
Iggo Dec 2016 #17
Name removed Dec 2016 #18
smirkymonkey Dec 2016 #23
former9thward Dec 2016 #19
Lee-Lee Dec 2016 #25
former9thward Dec 2016 #29
A-Schwarzenegger Dec 2016 #24
Alekzander Dec 2016 #27
Trust Buster Dec 2016 #28

Response to McCamy Taylor (Original post)

Fri Dec 30, 2016, 04:00 AM

1. Not all veterans use the VA

It isn't mandatory. My father fought in WWII but never used the VA. He always had private doctors... so I assume that this could already have been addressed in some way.

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Response to radical noodle (Reply #1)

Fri Dec 30, 2016, 04:04 AM

4. Did he have a service related injury

 


The most vulnerable persons would be those with service related injuries (of all kinds).

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Response to jberryhill (Reply #4)

Fri Dec 30, 2016, 04:08 AM

5. He never talked about it

but I know that he had issues with his legs and feet that were related to it. Don't know if it was an injury or an accident. My father was not the great communicator.

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Response to radical noodle (Reply #1)

Fri Dec 30, 2016, 02:10 PM

20. I was drafted back during the 'Nam years but no longer use the VA.

Had a bad experience with them back in the early 1970s and have never been back. If Toxic Waste Dump Trump and Congress screw up Medicare, then I will probably have no choice but to start back using them.

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Response to McCamy Taylor (Original post)

Fri Dec 30, 2016, 04:00 AM

2. Good question. nm

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Response to McCamy Taylor (Original post)

Fri Dec 30, 2016, 04:03 AM

3. Privatization of the VA is an evil and insane proposition

designed to maximize corporate profits at the expense of veterans and veterans' health. If anybody thinks fear of jeopardizing national security will stop the Republicans from trying to privatize the VA and maximize corporate profits, not giving a shit about about veterans in the process, they have not been paying attention.

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Response to McCamy Taylor (Original post)

Fri Dec 30, 2016, 05:06 AM

6. Privatization Equals Death for some of the vets

Last edited Fri Dec 30, 2016, 06:16 AM - Edit history (1)

Many are on a fixed income and cannot afford ANY increase in what they pay now.

Many will die because they cannot afford their meds, tests or any kind of care.

How many will give up and kill themselves so as not to be a burden or from depression because they can no longer afford to pay?

The damn reTHUGliCONS/gop and trCHump don't give a rats ass about the vets.

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Response to McCamy Taylor (Original post)

Fri Dec 30, 2016, 05:27 AM

7. I think I will defer to the Vets

Won't they take the lead? Imagine there will be sellouts, but vast majority would oppose privatization.

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Response to McCamy Taylor (Original post)

Fri Dec 30, 2016, 05:58 AM

8. To be honest I have wondered why we need the VA at all because can't they get similar care via

Medicare and Medicaid?

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Response to cstanleytech (Reply #8)

Fri Dec 30, 2016, 06:30 AM

9. No, how many GP's have experience with Dioxin.

How many can detect PTSD, from sleeplessness? Malaise, as a precursor to suicide? Believe me, our health care will suffer if many of us are are forced into civilian groups.

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Response to McCamy Taylor (Original post)

Fri Dec 30, 2016, 07:00 AM

10. Don't Privatize the VA

I was an Army Medic in Vietnam and depend heavily on the VA for my health care that is specifically targeted for my injuries in Vietnam that Medicare Doctors don't have the expertise or even sympathy to understand. Privatization only means profits for the shareholders and insurance companies. That happened locally. A former Republican mayor of my city organized a group of doctors to create a clinic that received public funds to help poor people receive health care. What they did instead was cut services to the poor people way back so they could build up a higher profit margin and then turn around and sell it to a bigger insurance company. So this was public money converted into millions of dollars of profit for Republican business men. That's exactly what would happen if they privatize the VA. The veterans would end up being secondary to the shareholders and insurance companies. And believe it or not, this local profiteering of health care was all legal because the Democratic legislators didn't imagine that anyone would be so cruel as to deny health care to poor people for a higher profit. So they didn't include any penalties for this kind of business activity. WRONG !!!

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Response to queentonic (Reply #10)

Fri Dec 30, 2016, 12:01 PM

16. +1000000!

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Response to McCamy Taylor (Original post)

Fri Dec 30, 2016, 07:11 AM

11. Privatizing the VA

is more republican smoke and mirrors to "reduce costs". Veterans who die, save them money. And since life has no value once you are born...

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Response to Turbineguy (Reply #11)

Fri Dec 30, 2016, 11:48 AM

15. I've never understood how extracting profits from a formerly non-profit agency "reduces costs."

It's Orwellian doublespeak.

If a for-profit can increase efficiency, so can a non-profit.

But many of these increases in efficiency, of "productivity," are harmful, especially in medicine. The suffering begins on the front line, with staff who have direct contact with patients. Experienced nurses are replaced with less-experienced, less educated staff. The caseloads of primary care physicians escalates until they can't practice anything but "checkbox" medicine. Administrators award contracts to businesses that don't pay living wages and hire undocumented workers who live in conditions approaching slavery.

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Response to hunter (Reply #15)

Fri Dec 30, 2016, 03:23 PM

22. It reduces costs by reducing benefits.

There are however other considerations. Government rules are cumbersome and set up ensure fairness and honesty. Private firms can have less stringent controls.

What makes this whole perception work for the republicans is that they can claim that civil servants are lazy and facilities are overstaffed. Remember, the stated reason has to be understood by low information voters (very Orwellian). And who likes a lazy civil servant? And who even looks for one to fact check? The VA has had its share of problems, which make it a target for the Ayn Randers. And of course republicans like to create problems in public agencies which can then only be solved by privatization.

The health problems that Veterans suffer are obviously different than the rest of us and can be far more latent in nature as well. This is why uniquely experienced people are needed in the VA Hospitals.

But yes, basically benefits are reduced or denied or undeliverable, money is siphoned off to top management and shareholders, while the government just coughs up the cash.

Would Veterans get better care through privatization? Anything's possible, but I don't think it's the goal.

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Response to McCamy Taylor (Original post)

Fri Dec 30, 2016, 08:27 AM

12. On the other hand

as flawed as the VA is I wish everyone in this country had a system as good as the VA is bad for their health care. Privatizing only means less care for me and more money in a few rich assholes, (who really don't need the extra money,) Pocket. Fuck that noise.

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Response to McCamy Taylor (Original post)

Fri Dec 30, 2016, 08:51 AM

13. Several things here...

 

First, the VA is a civilian agency and in no way part of the DOD.

Most VA doctors and nurses are not veterans. Virtually none of them hold any sort of security clearance or have any training on how to handle classified information. The only ones who would hold an active clearance would be those also in one of the reserve components of the US military in a position that requires it.

The VA computer system is in no way, shape or form set up for not approved to handle "military secrets". No classified information should ever be on there any more than it should be on the systems of any other typical government agency like HHS or HUD.

There is no indication the VA computer systems are in any way more secure than private health care systems. I can tell you for a fact that in virtually every way the VA computer systems lag about 10 years behind in technology and capabilities compared to what you see in the private sector. Heck, it was only very recently that they actually upgraded the VA system to allow codes for female specific diagnoses it was set up assuming all patients were male long ago and never changed.

So, in short, the idea that VA systems or VA doctors are somehow equipped to or more capable of safeguarding any information a patient wrongly passes to them is pretty much totally without merit or any grounding in reality. Being a VA employee gives them zero clearance or training on the matter and VA computer systems are no safer and in fact, due to how poorly run and constantly out of date they are probably more susceptible to compromise.

Now, as a patient who uses VA services I would very much like to be given the option of using VA doctors and services or choosing to go to a private practice or specialist and having the VA pay for it. When I was uncomfortable with the only choice given of an gynecologist at my old VA facility my only option to get another was to drive a 5 hour round trip to the next closest VA hospital. It would have been so much better to just be able to choose one in town.

The VA kind of tried this with the VA choice program but the screwed it up badly. It said if you were over so many miles you could choose a private doctor. But first they made the arbitrary decision at some facilities that the mileage limit Congress set was to be measured in nautical miles straight line to make it as ft as possible, so your actual drive might be 80 miles to go around rivers or mountains but straight line on a map it was 39 nautical miles making you ineligible. Then they badly, badly bungled paying the private doctors causing most to no longer accept the program after a short while and even causing some vets to have bills sent to collections in their name screwing their credit. They fixed the mileage issue to be driving miles everywhere but the damage from late payments remains with most providers no longer willing to take the system and vets with damaged credit.

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Response to McCamy Taylor (Original post)

Fri Dec 30, 2016, 11:19 AM

14. As a follow up I just asked one of our IT security guys at work

 

He deals with both classified and unclassified systems.

He first reiterated like I said that there is zero reason why any classified information should ever be disclosed to a health care provider like that, and in the case that it ever was there is zero reason why it should be put on unclassified systems.

But playing devils advocate he said if anything information that ends up on VA servers is probably more at risk to compromise. He based this on several things. First is how ancient and badly run the VA computer system is. Second is that it is a one single large system, so it is an obvious target that once comprised would compromise all the data in it. So breach one system and you have access to every vets records. That makes it a lucrative target.

He said in contrast the same vets going to a wide range of private providers would have their data on a wide variety of systems that are for the most part better secured because the private health care industry faces stiff penalties for compromising private data, and to try and compromise data would require either targeting a specific person by finding their provider, hacking them and hoping that classified data was negligently on that system, and repeating that hundreds of thousands of times on different systems.

So VA systems are likely less secure, and a more lucrative target to hack because of how much data is on the one big system.

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Response to Lee-Lee (Reply #14)

Fri Dec 30, 2016, 03:12 PM

21. Thanks. If true then the VA needs to get itself secure. As do all health providers

who use e-records. Do we really want hackers in Eastern Europe to know all our health---including our mental health issues?

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Response to McCamy Taylor (Reply #21)

Fri Dec 30, 2016, 06:48 PM

26. The VA scheduling system went online in 1985 and to this day it is unchanged

 

They are literally scheduling patients in a system that is 40 years old, and looks like the computers from an 80's movie like War Games.

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Response to McCamy Taylor (Original post)

Fri Dec 30, 2016, 12:04 PM

17. Why do we need to privatize the VA?

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Response to McCamy Taylor (Original post)


Response to Name removed (Reply #18)

Fri Dec 30, 2016, 03:25 PM

23. Thank you for your valued opinion.

And welcome to DU!

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Response to McCamy Taylor (Original post)

Fri Dec 30, 2016, 01:06 PM

19. People forget that Bernie Sanders and John McCain started the privatization in 2014.

They introduced a bill, which became law, which allows what is known as a "Choice card." Veterans can use this card to go to anyone they want outside of the VA to get treatment. There are certain conditions such as distance from a VA medical center or the time it would take to get an appointment there. So that door is already opened and is not going to be closed.

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Response to former9thward (Reply #19)

Fri Dec 30, 2016, 06:46 PM

25. The VA has essentially closed it by not paying providers

 

They promised timely payment and drug payment out for for an average of 100 days, with many instances where it went 180 days or more and the providers ended up billing the vets and sending it to collections.

So now most providers won't take VA choice patients because they think they won't get paid and a lot of vets are scared to use it after seeing others get their credit ruined by the VA not paying bills.

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Response to Lee-Lee (Reply #25)

Fri Dec 30, 2016, 11:55 PM

29. Thanks for the information.

I didn't know that.

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Response to McCamy Taylor (Original post)

Fri Dec 30, 2016, 04:10 PM

24. THE best piece on the Kochs' VA privatization scheme:

http://washingtonmonthly.com/magazine/maraprmay-2016/the-va-isnt-broken-yet/

The VA Isnít Broken, Yet

Inside the Koch brothersí campaign to invent a scandal and dismantle the countryís most successful health care system.

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Response to McCamy Taylor (Original post)

Fri Dec 30, 2016, 06:54 PM

27. You don't need to privatise it entirely but you could help out a lot of veterans if they were

 

able to use local hospitals & doctors at their homes or close. Payments for service could be sent to the VA or from the VA for services performed. I know active duty members can do this under Tri-Care I believe & would think some of them have security clearances for whatever they do.

Don't know but there should be a way because it is a real hardship for some veterans who are not close to a VA Hospital.

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Response to McCamy Taylor (Original post)

Fri Dec 30, 2016, 07:03 PM

28. Privatizing will be so much more costly.

 

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