Mike Turner sticking his 2 cents in on health care to protect his donors

This story is about political grandstanding of the most contemptuous sort. It’s a hatchet job, being amplified by a congressman, by a newspaper in search of another Pulitzer prize. It’s a story that needs to be analyzed a little deeper to understand what’s going on.

To set the story in perspective, I’m a Service Disabled Veteran and I get my health care at the Dayton VA. I’ve also had care through the commercial health care system- because in order to offer health care to my employees, I used to have to enroll in the for-profit medical system that this country continues to espouse as “the greatest in the world” while severely underserving our citizens. Given a choice after experiencing years of both- I can tell you that I’d choose the government run health care at the VA any day over the medical billing mill run by the duopoly of  Premier Health Partners and Kettering Health Network and supported by the virtual duopoly of United Health Care and Anthem in our community.

Last year, the Dayton Daily News latched onto the story of a VA dentist, working well past his prime at 81, who wasn’t following hygiene standards properly and some whistle-blowers got fired. There was a huge investigation, Dr. Pemberton retired, and Congressman Turner was leading the charge to find someone to blame at the VA. It made national news. The Dayton Daily even wrote a scare story: “Dayton VA investigated more than any other veterans’ hospitals” yet when you read the first graph you find:

Since 2006, the Dayton VA Medical Center has conducted more in-depth investigations of patient abuse and other employee misconduct than any VA hospital in Ohio {emphasis added}, a Dayton Daily News examination has found

via Dayton VA investigated more than any other veterans’ hospitals.

The Dayton Daily News won a Pulitzer in 1998 for a series on failures of military medicine. It’s my belief that they see the Dayton VA as their chance to win another.

To put things in perspective, I’m sure Dr. Pemberton didn’t follow modern processes for disease control as specified by the American Dental Association etc. But, as a patron of dentists for at least 45 years, I can remember when dentists didn’t wrap the room in plastic wrap, wear surgical gloves, eye shields or drape themselves in surgical gowns to go rooting around in your mouth- and yet many of us lived to tell the tale. The outbreak of AIDS brought a whole new level of protection (and lots more disposable medical waste) into the dentist’s office. Was Pemberton wrong? Yes. Should the system have caught him earlier? Yes. Was the VA negligent? Yes. But, so far, we’ve spent millions in investigations and found just a few cases of hepatitis and they can’t be directly correlated to Dr. Pemberton. The director was shuffled out, the whistle-blowers were exonerated, and Turner can now claim he’s there for our disabled veterans.

This week, we’re seeing the creation of another VA  “crisis” prime for political grandstanding. From the Dayton Daily News:

The Dayton VA Medical Center is investigating more allegations of improper conduct by an employee, this time in its anesthesia unit.

The allegations include an accusation that a doctor drew blood from patients under anesthesia without their knowledge or consent, according to a document containing the complaint.

…According to the complaint, the doctor also kept in his office a supply of a controlled substance, propofol, that he obtained from other VA employees. That propofol was kept in an unauthorized location and was not monitored or managed through the pharmacy even while there was a nationwide shortage of the drug in 2009……. It also wasn’t clear Wednesday how many patients allegedly had blood drawn without their consent, or when the activity took place.The allegations pose fresh challenges for the Dayton VA as it tries to restore its image following a scandal over infection control issues in its dental clinic in 2010 and 2011.

The federal hospital since 2006 has conducted more in-depth investigations of patient abuse and other employee misconduct than any other VA hospital in Ohio, the Dayton Daily News reported last year

…“If true, these allegations are troubling to say the least,” U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Centerville, said in a prepared statement.

“Since the dental scandal this past year, I have been concerned about the management and standards at the Dayton VA Medical Center. Our veterans deserve the safe and reliable health care they were promised when they entered military service. The new director, Glenn Costie, has indicated that he will take this matter seriously and provide a full accounting to our community.”

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, also expressed concern about the alleged misconduct.

“He has contacted the VA to express his concern and has requested that the VA complete a full, fair and prompt investigation on this matter,” a Brown spokeswoman, Lauren Kulik, wrote in an email.

via Local VA investigating more conduct complaints.

So we have political outrage over a dentist past his prime not following standard hygiene practices and an anesthesiologist who drew some blood without consent and had a private stash of a controlled substance.

Yet, zero outrage over the cost of three stitches to an uninsured citizen at Miami Valley Hospital. (the total $1,423 in case you don’t want to click the link).

Never mind this story from today’s paper about Miami Valley Hospital:

The state Department of Health on Friday confirmed there was one death associated with last year’s outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease at Miami Valley Hospital.

…a lawsuit filed this month against the hospital in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court identified a hospital patient whose death certificate lists Legionnaires’ disease as the cause of death. The patient, Charles O. Preston, 94, of Dayton, died on March 20.

via Death at MVH associated with Legionnaires’ disease.

Here we have an actual death, caused by not following proper procedures. Congressional outrage? Zero. And in reading the DDN article, we find that the laws on reporting the outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease are weakened under state law.

I had an unnecessary heart catheterization at Kettering after their fancy MRI scan of my heart showed problems due to their insufficient administration of radioactive tracer dye. Luckily, a friend who worked there managed to get the bill waived since their test was flawed (it was still being evaluated as a non-invasive process for doing heart scans). Was it the end of the world- hardly- yet, drawing blood without permission isn’t anywhere near as risky as sticking a camera into someone’s main arteries.

Here is the dirty little secret. Mike Turner doesn’t like public health care. If you look at donations by industry at Open Secrets over his career you find the following:

  • Health professionals rank 6th in all-time giving with $145,020
  • And hospitals and nursing homes are 17th with $96,620
  • This is leaving out his number one donor- “Leadership PACs” which may include medical lobbyists: $322,739

Do VA employees have to start donating to Mike Turner’s campaign so he will leave them alone to do their jobs and he can go after the real health-care fiasco in America- that of the overpriced private health-care system?

If  Mike Turner really cared about helping veterans, he’d not have allowed the wars to go on for over a decade, creating tens of thousands of new severely service disabled veterans. If he really cared about his constituents, he’d have pushed for the institution of single payer health care for everyone, eliminating the 35% premium those of us who have private health insurance pay to support a totally unnecessary middleman in the delivery of health care: The health insurance industry.

If you’ve managed to make it to the end of this article and agree with what I’ve said, please consider making a donation to my campaign which does not accept money from Corporations, Special Interest Groups, PACs or lobbyists. It’s time we had a representative in Congress who can stand up for us instead of for the corporate money that buys a seat in Congress. Thank you.


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