Archived Messages From the President
June 23, 2014
The current controversy over the alleged secret waiting list at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Phoenix has caught everyone’s attention. While what really happened has yet to be proven (and we need to have complete transparency as we look into these allegations) it is certainly no secret that healthcare for our veterans has been less than stellar before this happened.
In 2012 several vets died after an Atlanta VA hospital lost track of them, vets contracted Legionnaires’ disease in a VA hospital in Pittsburgh and veterans died in a South Carolina VA hospital in 2013 while they waited for tests. There is a reason that for years vets have avoided VA hospitals if they had any other alternative. Vets by the hundreds of thousands have avoided the VA prescription drug program, paying for Medicare Part D or any other program they could find and afford.
Is this what government run healthcare looks like? Is this what the proponents of a single payer government run healthcare system were talking about when healthcare reform was being debated four years ago? Is this what we have to look forward to with Obamacare? The term “death panels” has been a lightning rod for attracting emotional rhetoric, with opponents claiming it was purely a scare tactic and exaggeration. The idea of a panel of government bureaucrats deciding who lives and who dies was deemed ludicrous. Do you think the families of those veterans who died in South Carolina or, if the allegations are true, died in Arizona look at the bureaucracy that caused those deaths as anything less than a death panel?
The level of care at VA hospitals varies from hospital to hospital; there are some VA hospitals that give excellent care. It is this very fact, that there can be such a variance, which is troubling and gives credence to the need for a system wide review. The vets who wait for weeks or even months to get care are trapped in the VA healthcare system; they have nowhere else to turn.
We owe it to the veterans we just honored on Memorial Day to give them the healthcare they deserve. We need to get to the bottom of these problems and fix them. We can’t allow a bureaucracy to get between them and the lifesaving healthcare they deserve.