BEWARE - THE “COMMISSION ON CARE”
I am glad, now, that I subscribed to as many daily and weekly newsletters as I did. Between the myVA.com’s news releases (http://www.va.gov/opa/pressrel/http://www.va.gov/opa/pressrel/) , the VA/OIG news releases (http://www.va.gov/oig/publications/press-releases.asp), the Military.com’s press releases(http://www.military.com/about-us/press-room/press-releases), and the National VSO newsletters (DAV, VFW, VVA, IAVA, Amer. Leg., Concerned Veterans for America, etc.) I have started to see the picture that is evolving for our Veterans Health Care Program.
Points of interest:
1. The hastily rolled out Veterans Choice Program has fallen flat on its face.
2. Our younger generation of Veterans is about to experience the end of their Tricare Program; it will be thoroughly gutted by the end of 2017.
3. The Congressional “Commission On Care” was done on behalf of the
VA, and it produced 4,000 pages in 10 months; as hastily thrown together
as the Veterans Choice Program.
4. The prospect of full “privatization” of the Veterans Affairs Health
Administration is approaching at an alarmingly fast rate.
Unfortunately, the demise of the largest health system in the Country has nothing to do with Veterans. There are Social, Economic, and Political forces at work that have concluded Veterans are better served by the Private Sector. From the perspective of one Veteran, this move to “privatization” will be devastating, to say the least. Another unfortunate part of this story is that only 5.3 million Veterans, out of more than 22 million, actually use the VA Health system. That is roughly 25% of all Veterans in this Country. My question is, “Where are the other 75%?”
More false and misleading VA “statistics” are being tossed to the Public and the Press. This, from the Coeur d’Alene Press this month:
"Average wait times are five days for primary care, six days for specialty care and two days for mental health care," (Secretary Robert) McDonald said in response to the report (Commission on Care). "Nearly 90 percent of veterans surveyed say they are 'satisfied or completely satisfied' with the timeliness of their appointments."
1) “five days for Primary Care” - false
2) “six days for Specialty Care” - false
3) “two days for Mental Health Care” - false, with one exception: walk-in Clinics
Just these few numbers indicate that my local VA Hospital is not the only one experiencing these false and misleading statements coming from the top of the Veteran Health Care food chain. One more number from the same article, above, states that 90% of Veterans are “satisfied or completely satisfied” with the wait-times they experience. Again this simply can’t be. In my sixty-seven years on this planet, I have never witnessed any service delivery system realistically scoring a 90% satisfaction rate that includes “completely satisfied”.
I have dubbed the process by which the VA reaches these numbers as “voodoo accounting” (akin to Ronald Reagan’s “voodoo economics” from the 1980’s). These numbers are not the only ones that fall under the VA’s New Math. Facility Maintenance, Appointment Wait Times, Physicians’ Panels, Staffing, Hiring Freezes, Annual Salary Increases (to include COLA’s), and the existing reliance on the private sector all point to one thing, privatization, as if it is a foregone conclusion.
There is no need to reinvent the wheel. The VA has all the necessary parts to make this all work, and it doesn’t take a Rocket Scientist to reshuffle the deck.
In the meantime - As Veterans, we fought for our Country; a lot of us on foreign shores. Why, then, are we being forced to fight yet another War inside our borders and against the very Government that promised to “take care” of us?