Get your political fix from an unrepentant political junkie.
September 3, 2015
High-quality medical treatment for U. S. military veterans is a non-partisan issue. President Obama and all the presidential candidates have made statements about the moral obligation to provide proper medical care for our military veterans. However, little has been done since the Phoenix Veterans Hospital scandal last year, in which it was discovered that 57,000 veterans waited longer than three months for an appointment. Another 64,000 never received notice to schedule an appointment, often leading to critical neglect and death.
In a gruesome story that sounds like it came out of a Soviet gulag, when the families of deceased veterans were contacted to schedule an appointment, the V.A. executives instructed clerks to change the identifier “deceased” to “no longer needed.” A dead person no longer needs a doctor’s appointment, so technically the V.A. told the truth.
In October 2014, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald spoke to the Institute of Medicine in Washington, D.C., and vowed to “rebuild trust with veterans and stakeholders, improve service delivery and veteran outcomes, and set a course for long-term excellence and reform.” So far, not so good.
In February 2015, CBS News reported on 13,184 claims that the Oakland, Calif., Veterans Benefits office ignored over a period between 1996 and 2009. Half of those claimants were deceased by 2012, when a new employee discovered a file cabinet containing the discarded application requests. Other claimants received responses up to a decade later.
Veterans suffer from gross government bureaucracy. Complex benefits applications are a burden for those in need of medical assistance. This “Catch 22” situation is all too familiar for frustrated veterans, who have fought the V.A. system for years trying to receive the medical treatment they deserve by way of their service. If accepted, they then wait months for a doctor’s appointment.
In March, testimony before the House Veterans Affairs Committee revealed that the V.A. deliberately altered wait-time reports and falsified appointment records at 76% of its facilities.
Five more Veterans Administration offices: Los Angeles, Houston, Indianapolis, Philadelphia, and Baltimore have been identified as seriously neglectful, incompetent, or corrupt.
Secretary McDonald says that the V.A. is working to improve their electronic procedures for benefits applications, but veterans, V.A. employees, and veterans advocacy groups all reveal that thousands of claims continue to be ignored and uncounted in V.A. reports, as if those patients do not exist.
Just this month, the Memphis V.A. hospital is being investigated for abandoning paralyzed veterans in hallways and leaving nursing stations unattended for long periods of time.
Active duty and veteran military personnel and their families have dealt with a single-payer medical system for over a century. These systemic problems are not new; they are just more egregious and scandalous, and finally revealed to the public.
The civilian side of the U.S. population has no clue what they are headed for with the eventual single-payer system that the Affordable Care Act will create. These V.A. scandals are the harbinger of Obamacare’s troubles. Americans must repeal the A.C.A. and return power to the people through the free market. Otherwise, any one of us will be like a discarded application in an abandoned filing cabinet, as if we did not exist.