Our Veterans bravely served our nation. Many paid a steep price, making the ultimate sacrifice so that we may be free. Others live the rest of their lives with physical scars and emotional stresses. We owe these men and women a debt beyond measure.
Long ago our nation decided to provide these men and women with a specialized healthcare facility. The idea was and remains a great one. Unfortunately, our government is not up to the task of managing this health care system. The government created a single-payer system for our veterans, and it is failing.
Veterans deserve top-flight medical care. Secret waiting lists persist even after officials have promised action. VA facilities cannot handle the number of Veterans needing care. These secret lists and the resulting delays in care must end. Incompetent personnel must be removed from their positions. High standards and a commitment to veterans, and not VA employees, must be restored to the system.
Veterans often realize they could easily receive their routine care in facilities outside the VA system. The Veteran’s Choice Program is designed to allow some Veterans to do so at community facilities. The mechanism for participation in the Choice program is cumbersome, and many Veterans are not eligible. Veterans should not have to ask permission to see the doctor of their choice. These men and women protected our freedoms, and they deserve to have a Congress that protects theirs.
Veterans should have access to any provider they wish for their care. Whether it be a cardiologist or a gynecologist, Veterans deserve the freedom to make their own choices. Community facilities will compete for the opportunity to provide care for this large patient population. We will be able to negotiate favorable rates for this care. Everyone will agree that providing superior cost-efficient care for our veterans is our duty and should be our goal.
I do not advocate abandoning the Veteran’s Hospitals that have served so many. These facilities should be reorganized to become specialty centers, treating injuries particular to combat, since often these are beyond the capabilities of community hospitals. The reorganization will not only allow the system to remain relevant, but the refocused facilities will also become injury-specific centers of excellence and research. The change will require determination and innovation. This realignment will complement the overall healthcare reform I advocate.