Quote of the Day:
“When you go to Disney, do they measure the number of hours you wait in line?"
–Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald dismissing long waits for medical appointments of sick veterans
When you go to Disney, you're generally not in desperate need of timely, life-saving medical attention either, Secretary McDonald.
The VA does not make available to the public statistics on the time between asking for an appointment and getting in to see the doctor. McDonald was defending this lack of transparency. USA Today reports:
[McDonald] said wait-time measures can also create other problems and gave as an example the 14-day wait-time target implemented before the 2014 VA wait-time crisis broke that led schedulers and supervisors to falsify data to try and meet the target. In Phoenix, VA employees kept secret wait lists outside the system, and 40 veterans died awaiting care.
The target has since been relaxed to 30 days. But the Government Accountability Office released a report last month concluding that VA schedulers still are manipulating wait times and recommending that the VA more accurately measure them.
Let me get this straight: wait-line measures are bad because instead of encouraging VA officials to meet the target, they encourage them to lie. If this is the caliber of people working for the VA, it is time to clean house.
The Disney quote came in this context:
McDonald said the agency is developing a new measure that he hopes will more accurately reflect veterans' experiences with the VA.
“The days to an appointment is really not what we should be measuring, we should be measuring the veterans’ satisfaction,” he said. “When you go to Disney, do they measure the number of hours you wait in line? What’s important? What’s important is: what’s your satisfaction with the experience?”
But days to an appointment are crucial when somebody is sick. It can be a matter of life or death. It looks like the VA is trying to develop a measure that includes enough less relevant data to hide the wait-time. Or here's a gloss on what McDonald said: We don't really care, so get over it, sick veterans.
Fox business host Neal Cavuto had a great comeback to McDonald:
“And by the way,” he continued, “people who go to a park on a lark are very different from people who put it all on the line for this country so that folks like you and me can go to a park on a lark!”
The shocked Fox News host went on to say that, though he’s covered Washington politics for many years, he has never heard a “doozy” of this magnitude from a politician before. He also informed McDonald that Disney does, in fact, monitor its wait times — “that’s why they keep them curving and winding and have monitors to pass the time.”
“I don’t know if it’s just callous or stupid, maybe both,” Cavuto said, adding that the secretary’s comments were “craziness.”
Additionally, the frustrated Fox News anchor noted that no one waits for months at a time to get onto a ride at Disneyland.
McDonald's comment was immensely revealing.