Comparing VA Health Care to a Leisure Activity Extremely Insensitive – Jim Fausone, Veterans Attorney




Legal Help for Veterans is a law firm helping veterans get the benefits they deserve.

Northville, MI (Law Firm Newswire) July 18, 2016 – U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Robert McDonald apologized for comparing the amount of time veterans wait to receive medical care at department hospitals to waiting in line for rides at Disney theme parks.

In his original comments, McDonald claimed the government should be monitoring veterans’ satisfaction with the VA rather than appointment wait times as a measure of success. He said, “When you go to Disney, do they measure the number of hours you wait in line? Or what’s important? What’s important is what’s your satisfaction with the experience.”

“Comparing veterans’ health care to a leisure activity is extremely insensitive and inappropriate,” said Jim Fausone, a Michigan veterans attorney. “Delays in treatment can result in detrimental outcomes for veterans. They may experience worsening health or even die while awaiting care.”

Deputy VA Secretary Sloan Gibson offered an apology on the agency’s behalf during a subsequent Senate Veteran Affairs hearing, after veterans’ groups and lawmakers condemned McDonald’s controversial remarks. The American Legion’s National Commander Dale Barnett described the Disney comparison as “unfortunate” because “people don’t die while waiting to go on Space Mountain.” Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., said it was “offensive and shameful” to compare a child waiting to meet a Disney character with a veteran awaiting prosthetics or a PET scan.

McDonald cited Disney as an example of how private sector companies focus more on overall customer satisfaction rather the amount of time they have to wait in line. However, Disney actually does monitor wait times as a measure of their performance.

His comments were in response to recent scrutiny the VA has faced in light of a Government Accountability Office report released in April. The audit indicated that VA health care wait times were grossly underestimated. It also criticized the agency’s methods for calculating how long veterans wait for appointments or procedures.

The VA has been plagued with chronically long wait times at VA hospitals and clinics nationwide. In 2014 a whistleblower revealed that 40 patients allegedly died while awaiting appointments a Phoenix VA facility. The scandal led to former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki’s resignation.

“Getting veterans the health care they need and deserve should be a priority for the VA,” said Fausone. “Rather than dismissing the significance of appointment wait times, the department should acknowledge the problem and deal with it head on.”

Learn more at Legal Help for Veterans, PLLC 41700 West Six Mile Road, Suite 101 Northville, MI 48168 Toll Free Phone: 800.693.4800
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