The national media has done some great investigative reporting about problems plaguing the V.A. health system nationwide. Until now, Alaska, which has the largest population of vets per capita in the U.S., has largely remained out of the headlines, save for the issue being used as political fodder by both sides in the Senate race. As such, it’s largely been assumed that the problems in Alaska, compared to V.A. systems in the rest of the country, have been relatively benign.
Sen. Mark Begich, in a tough re-election battle, has taken much of the credit for the way the system works in Alaska, which, unlike in other places, allows some vets to go to private clinics. A story in The New York Times about whistleblowers who work in V.A clinics might begin to change the perception of the well-run, Alaska V.A. system. Among other whistleblowers across the country, the piece includes accusations by Dr. Jacqueline Brecht, a former urologist at the Alaska V.A. Healthcare System in Anchorage, who said that she was fired in 2008 when she blew the whistle for the system using phantom appointments to try to make it appear that wait times were shorter than they were. The story includes other Alaska-based V.A. hospital workers, who also faced retaliation for blowing the whistle. Note: the actions in this story took place in 2008, the year the Begich was elected. The feds are investigating 37 claims of whistleblower-retaliation.
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