I have thought about the delivery of healthcare to our veterans many times. As I have stated in previous blogs, I have had several years of first-hand experience with numerous VA hospitals. I am opposed to having two separate healthcare systems in America. I fully support the benefit of lifetime healthcare that was promised to the veterans, however, I believe that the current delivery system is failing in its mission. The veterans have enormous wait times, they often have to travel great distances to receive their care and all prescriptions need to be obtained through VA approved facilities. Furthermore, if they require hospitilization, then their loved ones must also travel and arrange for lodging in a strange town, in order to visit. Once they do obtain access, it is usually delivered by a stranger and in my experience the care is often sub-standard.
Perhaps, it is time to consider issuing a special “VA” healthcard that would allow the veteran to see a local physician, whom they would presumably know, and get any needed medications through their local pharmacy. The costs could then be paid for by the government, and the veteran would receive their promised lifetime benefit. This could potentially save the veteran an enormous amount of energy and frustration. In addition, they could by monitored by their local physician, which may result in better care and increased patient compliance. After all, isn’t this what we are really trying to accomplish. The latest bill, sponsored by Senator Bernie Sanders, addresses some of these issues.
There is another potential benefit. All of the ancillary personnel at a VA facility are federal employees and, as such, are compensated at a higher rate than the same job in the private sector. This represents a considerable amount of money to give to a system that, by any measure, is failing at its job. The health problems that are seen at VA hospitals are, for the most part routine, and easily handled in private sector hospitals. VA hospitals could then concentrate on the war-wounded veterans and rehabilitation that they do so well.