News recently has been filled with allegations of fraud and neglect in the Veteran’s Affairs Medical system. Specifically, a CNN report last month found that at least 40 veterans have died while waiting to get medical appointments because of a deceptive, secretive, waiting list practice.
Originally the scandal involved only a VA hospital in Phoenix, Ariz. but whistleblowers from at least half a dozen other facilities have now stepped forward to allege similar abuses.
Here’s what has been reported:
- By VA’s own account, only 41 percent of veterans are seen for a medical appointment within 14 days;
- The scandal began in Phoenix, where VA officials are accused of falsifying patient information and creating a secret waiting list in order to hide the fact that patients were having to wait months for medical appointments.
- At least 40 veterans on the secret list reportedly died while waiting for an appointment
- Whistleblowers in at least 5 other areas have now reported similar fake waiting lists at their facilities, including hospitals in Texas, Colorado, Florida, North Carolina and Wyoming.
- On Friday, May 16 Dr. Robert Petzel, undersecretary for health in the Department of Veterans Affairs, resigned in the wake of the scandal
Since the scandal broke, political conservatives and even moderates have begun wondering if the VA scandal is a harbinger of things to come with Obamacare.
A May 15 Washington Times editorial opined, “What’s happening to our veterans is unforgivable and deplorable, but 20-week waits to see a doctor may be what’s ahead for the rest of us.”
John Hayward, writing on the conservative website HumanEvents.com, was even more direct, writing, “The VA scandal is a disturbingly exact mirror of ObamaCare, demonstrating precisely the same management characteristics as Barack Obama’s boondoggle: gigantic sums of money wasted, endless lies foisted upon the public, and nobody held accountable by Obama.”
On TownHall.com, Guy Benson suggested, “While the political lessons about single-payer are no doubt important to underscore, more than anything, it’s a national disgrace the way our sick veterans are being treated by the bureaucracy charged with their care. The lack of action in Cheyenne discovered by CBS suggests that only the searing, sustained light of scrutiny is likely to affect change.”
On Newsmax.com Michael Reagan, son of the former president, wrote, “The U.S. already has a pilot program of government healthcare that’s been running for years. It’s called the Veteran’s Administration and its hallmark is substandard care, periodic scandals, and bureaucratic cover-ups of the truth. … Obamacare can’t work, the flaws are part of the design and the VA proves my point.”
And, speaking to CNN’s Candy Crowley, former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum said, “If you want to look at an example of government-run health care, the VA is a good example,” he said. “If we treat our veterans this way, imagine how we’re going to treat ordinary Americans who don’t have the political pull and the pull on the heartstrings that our veterans do.” Santorum then asked Crowley to consider where Obamacare was headed, and if she really wanted this as a government-run system of medical care?
But what do Tricare families need to know about all of this?
Right now, nothing. The implementation of the Affordable Care Act (aka, Obamacare) will not have much impact for people on Tricare (though there are some areas where the rest of America will be required to have coverage that is better than what Tricare provides). Likewise, the VA Hospital scandal should not have a direct impact on Tricare, though it is foreseeable that enhanced scrutiny at one government payor health care system could lead to more scrutiny of the others, as well.
Certainly, if families on Tricare have experienced problems similar to those being reported in the VA system, they should report those problems to Tricare now. Officials will likely be paying close attention to complaints now, considering the mess at the VA.