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Veterans' health care: Harbinger for the rest of us

By Richard E. Ralston
web posted September 15, 2014

Remember the waiting lists for veterans in need of medical treatment?

Recalling even the most recent scandal may not be easy. After President Barack Obama's initial, obligatory expression of great shock, he and major media did what they always do in the hope that we soon forget about an issue: they were silent.

Silent, as they are about the IRS persecution of non-profit advocacy groups. As they are about the "Fast and Furious" gunrunning to Mexican drug gangs. As they are about the botched federal health insurance exchange. As they are about the total collapse of border security and the massive waves of children entering the United States. As they are about the Department of Justice taking the telephone and other communication records of journalists. As they are about the extravagant drunken parties of the General Services Administration in Las Vegas.

As they are about the surveillance of everyone's e-mail and phone records by the National Security Agency. As they are about the repeated false claims by President Obama in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 that if you like your health plan or your doctor, you can keep them.

The pattern in any such scandal is for the president to give his opening declaration of outrage, decline further comment because an internal investigation is underway -- then never finish the investigation -- but start calling the issue one of the "phony scandals" anyway.

It is especially important to prevent that pattern from allowing indefinite delay of access to medical care for our military veterans. They deserve better.
The Veterans Health Administration should immediately provide vouchers for veterans to obtain medical care anywhere.

Currently, veterans do not have options when their medical treatment is delayed.
Being placed on a waiting list until you are dead is not medical care.

And as the federal government expands its control over all medical care, mistreatment of veterans has ominous consequences for the rest of Americans.

While the National Health Service (NHS) in Great Britain taxes every citizen for universal care, private care and insurance are still permitted. Indeed, many physicians employed by the NHS buy private insurance.

In Canada, although there are some "looking the other way" cracks in the system, private care and insurance are forbidden. But there is an escape: Canadians can cross the border to receive care in the United States, and they spend at least
$1 billion a year doing so.

How will Americans escape as Obamacare reduces all care to the response standards of the VA system?

Have VA facilities been built where veterans live--or in the districts of powerful congressional committee chairmen? Is the quality of care maintained-- or sacrificed for political gains?

Why have VA facilities spent $420 million installing solar panels? Why did the facility in Phoenix spend $20 million to build the nation's largest solar carport while they could not put veterans on a waiting list, let alone treat them?

A politically correct environmental agenda is infinitely more important to politicians than the health of veterans or the rest of us.

The most glaring fact about the recent VA scandals is that the secretary of Veterans Affairs obviously did not have a clue about what was going on. Neither did the president of the United States.

What will this or any president really know about the medical care the government will provide when it controls all of it?

Government-run medical care quickly morphs into political medical care. The VA scandal provides a very clear warning about the kind of tender, solicitous, timely, loving and effective medical care that the rest of us can expect from our politicians.

That is why we must now return medical care to the sole management of patients and their physicians. ESR

Richard E. Ralston is the executive director of Americans for Free Choice in Medicine, Newport Beach, California. Copyright © 2014 Americans for Free Choice in Medicine. All rights reserved.







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