Imagine for a moment that you are the grandchild of a Vietnam War veteran, a man that you adore and revere, your best friend in the whole world. However, your beloved grandfather can no longer live by himself, so you check him into a VA nursing home, one that you were assured is safe and top of the line, sure to keep your grandfather healthy and cared for.
The administrators at this nursing home make you believe all of these things, until a nurse’s aide blows the whistle on the abuse that is going on behind the scenes, including physical abuse and outright neglect, as was the case with one veteran who was found sitting in his own urine, uncared for by his attending nurse. You are correctly hurt and furious, with one all-important question on your mind: why?
Both fortunately and unfortunately, that question of why has been on the minds of politicians for decades, yet there seems to be no improvement in the VA. From VA police officers falsifying reports and striking veterans in their care, to doctors being forced to sign prescriptions without seeing their actual patients, the allegations of abuse keep on coming with no end in sight.
Both President Obama and President Trump made it a campaign promise to reform the VA and improve the medical care that veterans receive, but these issues continue. If you read my last article concerning medical care reform in general, I conclude this series on medical care reform with the same contention that we must privatize the VA in some regard, and give veterans a better chance at receiving the health care that they deserve.
This idea is not new of course, it just has not been pursued as a policy prescription in recent memory. However, the Trump administration is seeking to change that. Beginning in January of this year, the VA has begun to shift billions of dollars from the traditional government-run veterans hospitals to private health care systems. This transfer of funds keeps the health care costs the same as they were for veterans already accustomed to VA hospitals and clinics, while providing them with more options, shorter wait times, and a significantly smaller backlog when trying to schedule appointments and receive the prescriptions that they desperately need.
Proponents hope that funds will also be made available for nursing homes and in-home private health care, providing better care for older veterans who have been severely mistreated by current VA facilities.
Opponents of the change say that it will cost more money for taxpayers and starve the VA system that is not privatized, but that begs another question: why not privatize the whole thing?
It should be clear to everyone that the program is not working in its current form. Massive shortages of doctors and nurses have led to longer wait times and shortages that are just unacceptable when dealing with those who have sacrificed so much for us.
It is true in some regard that private costs of veterans’ health care will increase, but what are we willing to do to guarantee veterans the health care they have surely earned? If we are willing to spend $705 billion in 2017 on Medicare, why are we not willing to spend a little more on improving veteran care?
At the end of the day, it comes down to political will. Republicans must continue to muster the political will to push for the VA reform that has been promised for decades, and it’s about time we fulfilled that promise for our veterans.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.