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Pork and Promises Won't Fix VA Hospital Mess

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media, June 27, 2014

Based on the bills in conference, legislation to fix the Veterans Administration healthcare system will do little more than paper over problems that result from a fundamentally bad design.

Only in Washington are bureaucratic screw-ups and malingering on a massive scale rewarded so handsomely. In the case of the Veterans Administration hospital wait time scandal, the response to unconscionable cover-ups and bureaucratic failure consists largely of—you guessed it—more money.

Firings and prosecutions may follow, because apparently, Congress will have to pass a law to smooth that process.

What?

Only Congress could come up with a solution to healthcare wait times that essentially asks veterans to keep calm and carry on with the corrupt and unaccountable system responsible for the problem. Not only that, but the same bumblers who brought us this shameful episode get $500 million to hire new doctors and untold billions more to build new hospitals.

Never mind that in the proposed legislation, now in conference committee, there are provisions for those who wait a certain amount of time for an appointment or who live a certain distance from VA care to visit private doctors.

The question no one seems to be asking is why?

Why do we need a separate healthcare system for veterans?

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3 comments on "Pork and Promises Won't Fix VA Hospital Mess"


Tom M. (7/2/2014 at 3:45 PM)
It is interesting to note that a recent Commorweath Fund Study of health care provided in 11 industrialized countries, the U.S. ranks last in health care quality, efficiency, access to care, equity and healthy lives. This despite being the most costly of all the 11 countries. Is this what we want for veterans? I am a veteran and pleased with the quality of care I receive. Are any of the writers of this thoroughly biased article veterans? The problem VA has is that its success in providing quality care has overloaded the system with veteans seeking that care. Give it the funding it needs to take care of more veterans in a timely manner.

naught moses (6/30/2014 at 1:59 PM)
I also support Betbeze's views. Here's the comment I posted at the New York Times: Good luck, Bob. Not saying this fella can't make a difference, but unless he's allowed to fire at least 5,000 people and run the remainder through something akin to mid-century, Red Chinese thought reform, he's not going to make a dent. The VHS cult-ure is passive-aggressive here and burned out there. People have tried "culture change" and "bad apple" dumping at the VHS before, but the procedures required to get rid of GS employees are so arduous that few get axed. Sophisticated HR types have seen this over and over again. The better move is to put the VHS on the auction block and sell it off region by region to private operators, put veterans on a single-payer health insurance plan on an improved Medicare model, and allow veterans to select their care providers the same way most people do. (I know, but the current sit for them is worse than Medicare.) BTW, the VHS's programs for PTSD would be a joke if they weren't so archaic and inadequate. The state of the art for PTSD treatment is at least 20 years ahead of what the VHS provides right now. RG, Psy.D.

Earl W. Ferguson, MD, PhD (6/30/2014 at 11:00 AM)
I whole heartedly concur with this article! The clear problem with healthcare (or more specifically the medical care provided by those of us who really practice medicine) is the bloated governmental and insurance company rules, regulations and reporting requirements that are forced on us by legislators and bureaucrats that have no understanding of medical care. They have made things so complex that we can not provide efficient, cost-effective care! We need to get back to using some common sense to make decisions on care for our patients. We need to cut the staffs and bureaucracies of ALL the government organizations and agencies to force them to concentrate on efficiencies and the real problems. We the People should demand simplification and accountability in the oversight of our entire healthcare system. See American Healthcare Reform: Fixing the Real Problems to get a better understanding of these issues.