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VIDEO: CVA Shares Mark & Jean’s Tomah VA Nightmare

By Concerned Veterans for America

VIDEO: CVA Shares Mark & Jean’s Tomah VA Nightmare

Grassroots group is working to ensure veterans care remains in national spotlight.

Arlington, Va. – Concerned Veterans for America is releasing a new video today, reminding Wisconsinites of the consequences of the health-care crisis at the Tomah VA hospital and the need for VA reforms. The Tomah facility received nationwide attention in 2014 after the VA Inspector General reported that patients were being overprescribed opioids for pain relief, endangering lives and health.

Mark and Jean, Tomah residents, recount their experiences both as patients of the hospital, and as employees who witnessed prescription drug abuse on both sides.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW MARK & JEAN’S STORY

CVA Wisconsin Coalitions Director Luis Cardona released this statement:

“This couple’s story reminds us of the work that still must be done in order to improve health care at the VA. Our veterans served this country and deserve the opportunity to find the best possible care, whether it’s at the VA or with a local community provider. Mark and Jean, and many more veterans and their families, deserve our support. It’s time for Congress to advance legislation that stabilizes the VA health care system and then move on to broader reforms that will permanently improve access to veterans care.”

Concerned Veterans for America has asked Congress to come together with the Trump administration to create better health care options for our veterans. The group is asking lawmakers to advance the Veterans Access and Community Care Act of 2017 (S. 2184).

BACKGROUND

CVA has recently been urging Congress to take action on legislation to stabilize the VA health care system so that Congress can move on to broader structural improvements to the Veterans Health Administration. The group has expressed strong support for the Veterans Community Care and Access Act of 2017, introduced by Senators Jerry Moran and John McCain. 

The grassroots group also recently praised the White House for making several strong recommendations on how to reform the VA’s choice and community care programs – including creating clearer standards for when and how veterans can access care through community providers. 

CVA Applauds White House for Support of More Health Care Choices for Veterans (cv4a.org, 24 Jan 2018). 

For years, CVA has advocated for substantial health care reforms at the VA. In CVA’s Fixing Veterans Health Care Taskforce, the group advocates that veterans should have the option to take their earned health care benefits and use them to access care at the VA or in the private sector. 

‘Tomah VA Over-Prescribed Vets for Decades’ (cv4a.org, 7 July 2015). 

  • As early as 2004, employees at the Tomah VAMC referred to a certain provider at the facility as the “Candy Man.” [Dr. David Houlihan]
  • VA pharmacists who did not work at the Tomah VAMC found that prescribing practices at the facilityplaced it in danger of losing its DEA controlled substance accreditation in 2013.
  • The DEA has conducted at least three separate inquiries regarding potential drug diversion at the Tomah VAMC.
  • The VA did not conduct any investigation into the firing and suicide of former Tomah VAMC employee, Dr. Christopher Kirkpatrick. He attempted to blow the whistle on the Tomah VA’s outrageous behavior in 2009, but his efforts were futile. Not only did the VA not investigate Kirkpatrick’s claim, but they fired him, and on the same day, Kirkpatrick committed suicide.
  • The VA Office of Inspector General told witnesses interviewed during the Tomah VAMC health care inspection to expect a public report on the results of the inspection by early 2013—but it never surfaced. Only under political pressure was the report released earlier this year. 

 Bad Medicine: Tomah VA Pharmacy Hit with Temperature Surge (MacIver Insititute, 5 Jan 2018).

“A climate-control malfunction last month at the Tomah VA Medical Center outpatient pharmacy may have compromised medications and, ultimately, the health of veterans who took the prescription drugs, sources told MacIver News Service this week.”