Should we shutter the VA Healthcare System?

Today, as usual, I was perusing the news when I came across an article on Military.Com which asks the question: Should we end VA healthcare? The article references the commission recommendation to shutter VA healthcare facilities nation-wide and reduce the VA Healthcare Administration to the equivalent of a third party payor. The article does present some cogent arguments against such a move, and based on personal experience, I don’t think this is a good idea. After my last VA annual physical exam, I needed an orthopedic consult. Unlike previous consultation requests, which were handled in house, the VA decided to forward my appointment requirement to the new Veteran’s Choice Program. Veteran’s Choice is a program for veterans who live more than 40 miles from a VA Healthcare Facility (Hospital) to be able to be approved for appointments with providers in their local community. I just happen to live in a State that does not have a VA healthcare facility. In Alaska, there is an outpatient surgical center in Anchorage, and some Community Based Outpatient Clinics, but no hospital. After three weeks of back and forth calling with no appointment in sight, I opted out of Veteran’s Choice (or more correctly, declined to opt in). I then went to integrated care who scheduled my appointment as usual and I got seen. The problems with Veteran’s Choice in Alaska stem from the fact that in many communities, there is no civilian provider for the required service. Further, for several years, I had been seen in-house at the VA orthopedic clinic in Anchorage, and all my images and records were there, so for continuity of care purposes, I preferred to stick with the (actually quite good) doctors I had been working with. At any rate, the proposal to shutter VA facilities nation-wide would leave everyone with the equivalent of Veteran’s Choice, and I just am not convinced that this is a good thing. Read the article at the web address which follows, and feel free to sound off in response to this post. http://militaryadvantage.military.com/2016/03/care-commission-shocker-the-push-to-end-va-healthcare/


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  • Thomas Gray
    commented 2016-07-12 22:39:37 -0400
    I think it is important to keep the VA medical care system alive, but to be honest I think the VA Hospitals should be handed over to the Public Health Service. To many admistrators in the VA nickle and dime and the red tape for care as well as some VA employees disregard for Vets is a shame. I think also that every county should have at least one VA Clinic to aid vets in need of care
  • Brandon Zicha
    tagged this with someday 2016-04-04 03:32:12 -0400
  • Brandon Zicha
    commented 2016-04-04 03:31:55 -0400
    I think the ideal versus the practical implementation issues right now is the issue with this proposal.

    I think it is clearly superior for all Americans and all Veterans to have access to high quality care with the specialists they need. So, it’s a good idea in theory. A health system that has specialists for Veterans health issues deployed to civilian health care facilities is clearly superior in terms of cost for veteran care (leaving more to improve care and range of specialized services) as well as convenience for veterans (in terms of access). However, our current health system is a far cry from being able to support such a system at the level of care the VA current supplies (according to my Father, who adores his VA care).

    As someone who directly benefited from military hospitals and their excellent care growing up in a USAF family, and who saw his civilian neighbors receiving seemingly less convenient and lower quality care I see a huge inequity here that is difficult to countenance in a Republic built on political equality. But, we cannot sacrifice Veteran care for this good. Rather, we need to raise the level of care for all Americans.

    The VA bureaucracy, in such a universe could invest all of its resources in coordinating specialists, special medical training for veteran’s issues, and other direct care goods, and less on overhead and all the administration that requires. That would be a good thing… but… one step at a time.

    TL:DR – We need to bring the quality and access of civilian care up to at least the level of VA and Military Hospital facilities before considering shuttering the current VA system and changing it to a care coordination system, rather than care provision system.
  • Douglas Harvey
    published this page in Whig Forums 2016-03-31 20:49:50 -0400