The last subject we should be engaged in over Memorial Day weekend is the hapless handling of the medical care for the people who have made the most personal sacrifices for this country. Instead of honoring them properly we are having a national debate about who screwed up and why these venerated Americans are not receiving the services they deserve.
Thankfully, Steven T. Miller has been relieved of duty as a result of the whole affair. Oops, that is the wrong guy who was about to retire and became a sacrificial lamb. He was the temporary head of the IRS who left three minutes early from his job after the IRS fiasco. Dr. Robert Petzel, undersecretary for health at the VA, who announced his retirement a year ago and had a successor picked, is the new fall guy that the Obama Administration thinks is going to assuage the concerns of Congress and the American people. God forbid it works. The healthcare of our veterans is too important.
This is a completely separate issue from the huge backlog of disability claims that the Obama Administration has focused on and partially relieved. This is about the massive medical care system developed during the 20th century which became fully developed in the aftermath of the World War II. It now encompasses 153 hospital and 773 outpatient centers. This system came to fruition during a different time when medical care was less sophisticated and hospital care was less available. Despite this there is a backlog of 344,000 medical claims. The only real solution to this problem is to gradually phase out the segregated health care system for veterans.
There is no doubt that many good people work in the system and many good things are done for the veterans, but the argument ends there. If Americans would had seen in full glory the inadequacy of the system provided for our veterans, they would have erupted and never allowed Obamacare to pass. The poorly operated and politically manipulated system displays in HD multi-pixel glory the inability of the federal government to operate a medical system.
I spoke with Dr. John R. Ammon who is an anesthesiologist. He is not a pedestrian doctor, having trained at both Harvard and Stanford, and then later becoming the President of the American Board of Anesthesiology. Ammon worked several days a month for five years in the recent past at the VA hospital in Phoenix which has come under fire from whistleblower Dr. Sam Foote. Ammon stated “VA medical care is typically for veterans who cannot afford the private health care historically utilized by the majority of Americans. The VA system is commonly used as a teaching facility, utilizing government-employed doctors and frequently physicians nearing retirement.” Ammon believes that the standard of care is definitely below the level provided at nearby private hospitals.
When Dr. Ammon was asked whether he agreed that the VA Health Care System should be ended, he concurred with one proviso. The military has certain facilities that treat soldiers coming from combat areas with conditions like blast and burn injuries which are highly specialized and do a superior job. The level of care for the average veteran in the VA system is below standard and Ammon believes it would be vastly improved in the private and university health care systems throughout America. Ammon declared that “the VA system, a ‘single-payer,’ government-run bureaucratic system, is exactly where medical care is ultimately headed under Obamacare for all U.S. citizens.”
Ask yourself these simple questions: if a veteran has a medical emergency, why should that person not be sent to the closest medical facility near their home? If a veteran needs continuing physical therapy, why do they have to be located near a VA facility to receive that care and why does their family have to move near the VA facility to be close to their loved ones? Why can’t their care be delivered at a location close to their home or at their home? If VA hospitals are such a quality system, why don’t our seniors have such a system set up for their care under Medicare? The answers are simple: the system is an anachronism and should be dismantled. The veterans should receive vouchers or a medical card that allows them to receive care at the best location for them. The system is dysfunctional and needs to be phased out. It is nothing more than a system of rationing medical care that is resulting in the death of honored Americans.
We can spend the next year pointing fingers and extracting recriminations. General Eric Shinseki has been in charge of the Dept. of Veteran Affairs the entirety of the Obama Administration. He may have been a capable boss when wearing four stars on his shoulders, but he has been an atrocious overseer of the vast bureaucracy that does not snap to attention. For over five years he has presided over a system in decline, but now he tells us he is the man to fix it. He says he is the second most angered person over this matter next to our President, but what will they do? The VA Health System should not be fixed, it should be dissolved.
That is why on this Memorial Day you should think about the various organizations that clean up after the VA. The ones that take care of what the VA Health System does not do for our finest public servants. Consider a gift to the Wounded Warrior Project or the Semper Fi Fund. Or if you want to think of the people currently in the service, consider Operation Gratitude.
Please don’t leave the care of our veterans and current service people in the hands of the government. It is clearly not up to the job.