Saturday, May 24, 2014

Socialized Medicine in the Veterans Administration

I have been following the Veterans Administration scandal with disgust and anger, but not with surprise.  I served in the Air Force and have friends who are retired or disabled vets.  I have experienced, witnessed and heard about the socialized medicine that the military provides our active duty, retired and disabled veterans.  I have also known active duty doctors and nurses who have shared firsthand what goes on in hospitals and clinics.  They were all wonderful professionals who did their best to take care of our people in spite of a fundamentally broken system.  When I separated from the Air Force, I had issues for which I could have pursued disability, but chose instead to entrust my health to the open market.  It has undoubtedly cost me more, but I am more than satisfied with my choice.

If I or my family members need an appointment, I call my doctor's office (that I like) and never have to wait more than a day or two to be seen.  Most of the time it is no later than noon the first day.  If I want to see a specialist, it takes a little longer - maybe a week or two, and with my plan (that I like) I don't have to ask my "primary physician's" permission.  If I have a minor emergency, I go to Urgent Care which is literally 3 minutes from my house.  If I have a major emergency, I go to the ER or call an ambulance.  I pay attention to what doctors and facilities are in my network, but I still have plenty of choices.  It's not quite a free market (since I am limited to my insurance provider's contracts), but it's not bad, and I am very free to go to an out of network doctor if I want to.

In the overwhelmed and understaffed VA system, patients have to wait days, weeks and sometimes months for care.  We have heard horrific stories from Arizona where veterans died waiting for treatment.  Doctors, nurses and receptionists have been blowing whistles all over the place that wait times are being falsified, that patients are given an appointment date, but not given a choice, and that records are falsified that the patient chose the date.  We are hearing that care is substandard, patients have little say in how they are treated, and the whole thing is a mess.

I was disgusted to hear the news, but not at all surprised.  Back when Obamacare was being pushed, I read that some Democrats were holding up the VA as a successful example of what they wanted to accomplish with the Affordable Care Act.  I couldn't help but laugh.  I, like so many other veterans, knew exactly where they were heading - and it is a disaster.  Remember, Obamacare isn't the end goal - the progressives' real goal is a single payer, government run system just like the VA

The VA is the perfect example of government run, single payer, socialized health care, and it's a complete disaster that needs to be replaced with a subsidized free market system, with veterans given vouchers for private insurance and private doctors.  Privatize the VA hospitals and clinics and reduce the VA to an organization that simply administers the voucher program.

Furthermore, Obamacare needs to be scrapped.  Medicare and Medicaid need to be drastically overhauled and replaced with a similar voucher program, and the rest of us should be allowed to purchase insurance on the open market and across state lines.  A properly functioning Medicare program could provide a safety net for people with chronic or terminal illnesses, and employer and groups purchasing insurance together than ensure further protections for the consumer.

The VA is a disaster that has been festering for a very long time - before Obama, before Bush, before Clinton, in fact, all the way back to World War I.  Its has been fundamentally flawed from the beginning, just like Obamacare.  The only viable solution is replacement, not finger pointing, firing people and pretending to be surprised.

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