After several weeks of failure to provide timely healthcare to U.S. military veterans–with some dying as they waited for care that would never come–the Veteran’s Administration will allow veterans to pursue private healthcare options to improve their treatment.
On May 24, the Associated Press reported that VA chief Eric Shinseki announced a new plan for VA hospitals and healthcare providers to work more with private doctors. Shinseki told the press that the VA is “increasing the care we acquire in the community through non-VA care.”
Shinseki makes this concession as 26 VA facilities thus far are being investigated for forcing sick veterans to wait for months to receive medical care. As many as 40 veterans allegedly died waiting for care on these lists.
The VA reportedly spent $4.8 billion on medical care given to veterans at non-VA facilities. That amounts to about 10 percent of the VA’s medical budget.
However, many wonder what took the VA so long to arrive at this decision. Congressman Jeff Miller (R-FL) chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee released a statement criticizing Shinseki and the VA.
Miller charged the Obama administration and the VA of engaging in “an endless discussion regarding allegations, investigations and unreliable internal VA reviews” while at the same time “overlooking VA’s very real, very deadly and very well-documented delays in care” problem.
Senator John McCain (R) has also called for the VA to allow veterans to secure healthcare outside the VA system.
While that appears to finally be happening, the fact that government is admitting failure and opening itself to participation from the private sector seems to run contrary to Obama’s government-first mantra, especially when it comes to health care.
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