Is It Time To Close the V.A. Hospital System?

May 21, 2014

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.

Comments

Heath Care

I agree to having the private sector involved with the care of vets. I too am a service connected veteran and have been a part of this terrible health care system they have set up for us veteran's. Perfect example, I have had both knees replaced (on different dates), the first was done through the private sector (April 16, 2013) when I had a job and was able to carry insurance through my job. The surgery it self was a rough go but the care after the surgery was great. I did not miss a beat with care from the time I was home with in home therapy and nurses visits, to outside the home with physical therapy - it was great.
The second knee was done on Dec. 17, 2013 six months after the first, unfortunately I lost my job a few months after the first surgery, so this one was going to be done through the VA. The VA farmed this surgery out to the private sector because the VA was so backed up. This worked great for me to have the same doctor do both knees. The surgery went great and when I was release the same thing took place, my doctor prescribed in home therapy and nurse visits for the first 4 weeks just like the first. Just before the last week of my in home therapy was up, I called the VA to get set up for out patient therapy at the VA, they gave me a date of 2 months out from the date of my last in home therapy visit. I need not say how pissed off I was to know that I could not get treatment in timely manner through the VA, I could not believe it was happening. Today is June 13, 2014 and I have had quite a few issues with last surgery so I have been trying for the last 3 months to get an appointment to see either my doctor or a VA
orthopedic and no matter how complained no one was listening. But after the Arizona incident I received a phone call and it was the VA. They scheduled me an appointment for July 14th to see a VA orthopedic, keep in mind this was about 3 weeks ago. So by the time I finally see a doctor it will be a total of 4 months that I have been complaining about something wrong with my leg and I need to see someone. I can tell you exactly what the issue is with this second surgery. Because I have not received the proper care in a timely manner it is not healing correctly and I am afraid that they will need to go back in.

The system needs a complete overhaul and I really do feel the only way to fix it is to get rid of it. I am on board with the private sector getting involved in my healthcare, they have never let me down. As far as the VA goes and my dealings with them, I have absolutely no trust or faith in them. (VERY VERY SAD)

As a service connected

As a service connected disabled veteran I appreciate the services I have received from the VA Hospital system. Indeed I am not on the receiving end of a significant or invisable wait list. The goal should be to provide the greatest care avaialable. If that means vouchers or a new ID card that connects the provider to a payer service, all the better. This bureacracy is turning into another national problem of management within government. Let's not make the same mistake as the ACA rollout, let's hire or contract with proven hospital/medical practice administration experts. Those who have served have earned the right to dignified care and services.