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Making Excuses: Good Enough for Government Work

As with most bureaucratic failures, the typical excuse is usually that the problem du jour could easily be solved if only there was more money.  Trying to explain away long lines at the DMV because of funding is one thing, but making such excuses in matters of life-and-death, like the delivery of healthcare, is another altogether.


Not surprisingly, that’s the excuse offered by the VA in response to a recent GAO report about the increase in the number of doctors and nurses who are leaving the VA system.  According to The Washington Post, nearly 6,000 providers left the VA in 2011.  That number increased to almost 8,000 providers who departed the VA system in 2015.  According to the VA, these departures have helped lead to the problems that the VA has had providing quality healthcare to veterans and simply is a reflection of the VA’s need for more government funding.


A closer look at those numbers, however, tells a different story.  While the roughly 2,000 additional healthcare providers who left the VA in 2015 as compared to 2011 might sound like a lot at first blush, the Post article also notes this important piece of information:  it is only an increase of 0.9 percent.  In other words, the number of healthcare providers who left the VA system over the time period studied was so insignificant, it was a change of less than one percent.  The simple fact, as the VA data show, is that the departure of healthcare providers from the VA system each year really hasn’t changed much at all.