On Friday I went on Twitter and tossed out what seemed like a fanciful if not terribly practical idea.
New plan. Move all members of Congress onto VA healthcare. No private care options.
— Jazz Shaw (@JazzShaw) June 13, 2014
Well, we may not be able to do that, but the GOP has already cooked up a plan which is nearly as good. The Prince of Twitter, Andrew Malcolm, brings us this weekend’s GOP message from Tom Coburn.
In some locations, like Boston and Pittsburgh, VA care is top notch. At others, such as at Phoenix, it is very sub-par.
High death rates and complication rates are occurring at more and more VA centers. And this information is not being shared with our veterans.
I never served in the military, but like all Americans, I have the wonderful benefit of living in a great country because of those who put on our uniform.
It is unacceptable that the men and women who bravely fought for our freedom are losing their lives, not at the hands of terrorists or enemy combatants, but from neglect by the very government agency established to take care of them…
There’s a simple cure to achieve these goals: Make every hospital a VA hospital.
VA hospitals serve an important and unique role, but veterans should be allowed to choose where, when and from whom they receive treatment.
If a VA center is inconveniently located, veterans should be free to choose another doctor.
This week the Senate approved a bipartisan bill to empower veterans with the freedom they deserve.
Under this plan, veterans living over 40 miles away from VA clinic would be able to receive their care somewhere closer if they so choose to do so. Those who cannot receive a timely VA appointment would automatically have the option to see another doctor outside of the VA.
Coburn goes on to list a number of other facets of the bill which would hold VA employees accountable for their actions (or lack thereof) and provide more oversight. Those are all important ideas, of course, but the number one priority still has to be getting veterans in to see a doctor now… not next year. And while my plan – to force members of Congress to only get appointments and help at VA hospitals through the same application and waiting channel as veterans – might spur them to quicker action, it doesn’t provide a solution. Maybe this will. But how do you handle the payment end of it?
I’m not sure how practical it would be, but could the veterans be issued some form of Medicare / Medicaid ID card which would allow them to go to any doctor or hospital and have their bill processed in such a way that the VA reimburses the other agencies for the incurred charge? I suppose I’m rather naive about the entire system, but it doesn’t really sound like it should be all that difficult to do that. If they are too far from a good VA center or if the wait time is too long, let them go to whoever they can find locally and get the ball rolling. We manage to foot the bill for tens of millions of people seeking medical care every day in this country. Is it so crazy to think that a few strokes of the pen could roll our wounded warriors into the same tent?