Is It Time To Close the V.A. Hospital System?
For years, proponents of a single-payer health care system in the U.S. have pointed to the V.A. Hospital System as the example of how government-run health care can work in this country. It is now being revealed that the V.A. system has some terrible flaws. (Here, Here, Here)
As background, the government has been involved in health care for service men and women and veterans since the late 18th century. "Homes", the forerunners to hospitals, were built shortly after the Civil War. Several veterans programs were consolidated into the Department of Veterans Affairs in 1929 and a formal hospital system was in place after World War II.
No one questions the need for providing medical care to our veterans. The tragedy is the care in the V.A. system is, by many accounts, substandard when compared to our private health care delivery system. The problem is not one of quality. The doctors and nurses in the V.A. system are excellent and many of the hospitals are affiliated with major teaching centers. The problem is access for our veterans.
Because of bureaucratic regulations and scheduling inefficiencies, wait times are unacceptable. It is now reported that long wait times have limited the access to both primary and specialty care for our veterans. Officials claim that the system is seeing more patients because of the Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. Yet the system has had to deal with WW II and Korean War vets for years and has never had the efficiency of the private market.
A better solution for our veterans would be to give them vouchers and allow them to use the private market to find health care. Diverting taxpayer funds from an inefficient government system to the private market and closing the V.A. hospitals would save money and provide our veterans with the same health care the vast majority of Americans enjoy.