Almost two years after President Obama solemnly vowed to advance “urgent reforms” to speed up veterans’ medical care, government auditors document an unfazed culture of patient disregard that permeates the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Today’s VA more appropriately stands for “verified abomination”: Wait times haven’t improved. Records are still being fudged to cover up delays. The worst VA players are demoted, not fired. And shredder-happy benefit centers, including one in Philadelphia, are destroying pertinent patient records.
Out of 180 newly enrolled veterans tracked, 120 waited from 22 to 71 days to see a doctor, according to the Government Accountability Office. Some of those waiting weren’t even scheduled to see a doc. Not that this is surprising. The Associated Press last year reported that the number of vets waiting more than 90 days for an appointment “has nearly doubled.”
Then there’s the report from the VA’s inspector general that some benefit claim centers are sending the wrong documents to the shredder — and with them, veterans’ disability claims.
So, exactly what happened to $16 billion appropriated in 2014 to reform the Veterans Health Administration?
Veterans deserve more than a broken system that’s incapable of repairing itself. The answer is privatization and free-market competition for the provision of care for those who wear America’s uniform.
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