Central View: Have we seen a future of health care through VA?
May 29, 2014
Filmed in the year 2007, there is a video of Candidate Barack Obama professing detailed knowledge about the long waits for care at VA medical facilities. A 2009 video shows President Obama promising to fix the bureaucratic snafus at VA hospitals. Last week, presidential spokesperson, Jay Carney, claimed President Obama just now learned from media accounts of how poorly our nation's wounded and disabled warriors are being treated.
But wait. Playing "gotcha" politics with VA health care does not fix the real problem which is that government-run (socialized medicine) systems are inherently inefficient, are largely indifferent to the needs of the patients they are supposed to serve, and they end up rationing health care. The VA scandal is merely a preview of ObamaCare. We have seen the future and it does not work.
Yet that does not mean that the President and Congress cannot take some steps to give some almost immediate relief to our long-suffering veterans. As retired Marine Lt. Colonel Oliver North suggests, President Obama, by executive action, could decree that more veterans be hired at the VA. Currently, more than two-thirds of VA employees have no prior military service. Secondly, Congress should pass a law that every disabled veteran be given a voucher that would be honored at any civilian health-care facility that is capable of addressing the veteran's health-care needs.
Thirdly, the Democratic-controlled U.S Senate should get its priorities straight. Instead of taking up a House bill to make it easier for unsatisfactory VA employees to be fired, the Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate refused to consider the VA-related legislation and spent much of last week trying to a force a professional football team to change its nickname.
That said, there are many dedicated VA doctors, nurses, orderlies, and VA National Service Officers who want to do right by our veterans but are trapped by the inherent bureaucratic inefficiencies of a government-run system. This disabled veteran waited a full year for a VA hearing-aid examination. But, when I finally was allowed to see a VA M.D. audiologist, he was excellent. The people who repair VA hearing aids are highly professional. Errors in my military service record (DD 214) were fixed by a wonderful VA National Service Officer. We recommended her for a national award.
Whether the current head of the VA is fired is a distraction. But one wonders how much time he spent visiting the hospital wards and the waiting rooms to talk with the veterans as opposed to visiting with senior administrators? When U.S. Army, Europe (USAEUR) was at its peak of readiness in the early 1960s, it was commanded by the late General Bruce C. Clarke whose credo was: "An organization only does well those things the boss checks."
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General Clarke lived his credo, spending his time in the motor pools pulling engine dip sticks, talking with soldiers at the buck-private level, boosting the morale of commanders whose units scored high in combat readiness and in caring for the needs of their soldiers and their dependents. Commanders who fell short, he fired. While a government-run health-care system cannot be fixed, a take-charge Commander-in-Chief and a U.S. Senate with its priorities straight could certainly improve it.
Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, is a laureate of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame, and the Oklahoma University Army ROTC Wall of Fame. He was educated at the University of Oklahoma, the George Washington University, the U.S Naval War College, the University of Nebraska, and Harvard University.