The Veterans Affairs Department is planning to fund healthcare programs in fiscal 2012 and 2013 in part through cost-savings estimates backed by faulty methodology, says the Government Accountability Office.
According to a Feb. 27 GAO report (.pdf), VA expects to realize savings through six agencywide operational improvements, resulting in more than $1.2 billion in funds in fiscal 2012 and approximately $1.3 billion in fiscal 2013. But GAO says two of those six initiatives lack analytical support for savings estimates and one uses flawed methodology.
How the VA will chart saved dollars in order to redirect them toward healthcare programs is also a concern. Report authors say one of the initiatives has no process for tracking savings and two initiatives have tracking methodologies that may overstate savings.
VA has used this program-funding technique in past budget requests as well, but has been unable to achieve anticipated savings, note report authors. In 2006, VA lacked a methodology for determining its estimated savings and did not accurately track the savings from efficiency initiatives.
"If the savings anticipated under VA operational improvements...do not materialize and VA receives appropriations in the amounts requested by the President, VA may have to make difficult trade-offs to provide healthcare services with the resources provided," write report authors.
Without clear analytics to support estimates and tracking methodology, VA runs the risk of coming up short, says the report. GAO was unable to estimate how close VA would come to its savings estimate in order to fund its planned budget.
The report commends VA for its efficiency strategies but says if they're incorporated into future budget requests they should be backed by sound, detailed estimates and tracking procedures.
- download the report, GAO-12-305 (.pdf)
Thank You Fierce Government and Ms Bernhart Walker
"Though a positive outcome has not been observed with the NJ Algorithm to date,researchers suspect that a larger sample size might generate significant findings in the future."
The Disability Numbers
There are no good studies yet on the percentage of “early onset” bipolar patients when they reach adulthood, end up on the SSI and SSDI disability rolls. However, the astonishing jump in the number of “severely mentally ill” children receiving SSI speaks volumes about the havoc that is being wreaked. There were 16,200 Psychiatrically disabled youth under 18 years old on the SSI rolls in 1987, and they comprised less than 6 percent of the total number of disabled children. Twenty years later, there were 561,569 disabled mentally ill children on the SSI rolls, and they comprised 50 percent of the total. This epidemic is even hitting preschool children. The prescribing of psychotropic drugs to two-year-olds and three-year-olds began to become more commonplace about a decade ago, and sure enough, the number of severely mentally ill children under 6 years of age receiving SSI has tripled since then, rising from 22,453 in 2000 to 65,928 in 2007 (98)
Moreover, the SSI numbers only begin to hint at the scope of the harm being done. Everywhere there is evidence of a worsening of the mental health of children and teenagers. From 1995 to 1999, psychiatric-related Emergency Room visits by children increased 59 percent. (99)
The deteriorating mental health of the nation’s children, declared U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher in 2001, constituted a “health crisis.” (100) Next, colleges were suddenly wondering why so many of their students were suffering manic episodes or behaving in disturbed ways; a 2007 survey discovered that one in six college students had deliberately “cut or burned self” in the prior year. (101) All of this led the U.S. Government Accountability Office to investigate what was going on, and it reported in 2008 that one in every fifteen young adults, eighteen to twenty-six years old, is now “seriously mentally ill”. There are 680,000 in that age group with bipolar disorder and another 800,000 ill with major depression, and, the GAO noted, this was in fact an undercount of the problem, as it didn’t include young adults who were homeless, incarcerated, or institutionalized.
That is where we stand as a nation today. Twenty years ago our society began regularly prescribing psychiatric drugs to children and adolescents, and now one out of every fifteen Americans enters adulthood with a “serious mental illness.” That is proof of the most tragic sort that our drug based paradigm of care is doing a great deal more harm than good. The medicating of children and youth became commonplace only a short time ago, and already it has put millions onto a path of lifelong illness.
98: Social Security Administration, annual statistical reports on the SSI program, 1996-2008, Social Security Bulletin, Annual Statistical Supplement, 1988-1992
99: Pediatric Academic Societies, Pediatric Psychiatric admissions on the rise,” May 16, 2000 press release
100: D. Satcher, Report of Surgeon General’s Conference on Children’s Mental Health (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2001).
101: B. Whitford: “Depression, eating disorders and other mental illnesses are on the rise, Newsweek, August 27, 2008
And the response of the parties sitting atop this Disability, Disease, and Death Dispensing Pyramid Scam Is?