WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 14: Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald (L) and VA Undersecretary for Health David Shulkin testify before the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee in the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill September 14, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The VA Doesn’t Need Protection — It Needs Competition

By Sally Pipes, Forbes.com

It takes a special kind of dishonesty to defend the Department of Veterans Affairs’ scandal-plagued health system. Yet that’s exactly what Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., veterans groups, and the Obama administration are doing in response to a modest proposal from the Trump transition team.

A Trump official recently suggested that veterans should have the option of using private-sector doctors and hospitals. Sanders shot back that the incoming administration should “protect the VA, not destroy it.” American Legion Executive Director Verna Jones claimed that “dollar-for-dollar, there is no better care or value available anywhere in the United States — period.”

Such statements are not just ridiculous — they’re antithetical to the interests of our nation’s veterans. For years, the VA’s single-payer health system has subjected veterans to months-long wait times and substandard care.

Exposing the VA health system to market forces — as President-elect Trump seems interested in doing — is a commonsense way to improve the quality of care we provide to our veterans. Defending the status quo, on the other hand, is simply inhumane.

In its current form, the VA health system threatens veterans’ health — and in many cases, their lives. Over 200 veterans died in 2015 while waiting to receive care at a Phoenix VA facility, according to a recent report. Some patients faced wait times as long as six months.

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The agency is also beset by rampant corruption. In 2014, for instance, VA auditors discovered that employees at 110 facilities had kept secret waiting lists to hide the severe delays veterans faced when seeking care.

That same year, two high-level officials created higher-paying jobs within the department and promoted themselves into those positions, billing the agency for $400,000 in relocation costs along the way. Instead of giving them the boot, the VA attempted to keep them in their positions.

Sadly, public outcry over the VA’s serial misdeeds hasn’t improved matters for veterans. In November of last year alone, over half a million veterans were asked to wait more than a month to see a doctor.

In a single-payer system like the VA, such widespread corruption and inefficiency is to be expected. So it’s only reasonable that the Trump Administration would seek to introduce some private-sector competition into the program.

What’s truly indefensible are the recent attempts by veterans groups and the Obama administration to defend the VA status quo.

 

By Sally Pipes, Forbes.com

Keep in touch. Subscribe to Ameriforce’s FREE digital editions.  Focus topics include: Military News    Spouses   Deployment   Finance   Relocation   Veterans   Health & BenefitsFollow us on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn and Pinterest