Legion fights effort to privatize VA care

Members of a congressionally appointed Commission on Care, many of whom are medical industry executives, are reportedly pushing lawmakers in Washington to support long-term plans to accelerate privatization of VA health care. American Legion National Commander Dale Barnett says such a proposal seriously undermines the committee’s purpose – develop a 20-year strategy to provide timely, high-quality care for veterans who use Department of Veterans Affairs services – and raises conflict-of-interest concerns when those promoting privatization stand to gain financially if that becomes VA’s future.

The 15-member commission, which began meeting last September, currently has no representation from any veterans service organization. A portion of that commission has developed what Barnett describes as a “straw man” proposal condemning the current Veterans Health Administration and promoting privatization instead. The commission, according to a provision that created it as part of the 2014 Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act, reports to the president through the VA secretary.

“I don’t understand how commissioners paid by the federal government are able to break ranks, create an unapproved report and try to advance self-serving agendas while operating as congressional appointees,” Barnett said.

The “straw-man” proposal to shoot down the current system and advance a VA privatization theory “uses highly subjective media sources as evidence and describes Medicare as a business model,” Barnett said. “The proposal lacks any real understanding of the complexities of VA and serves primarily to set up the private industry to benefit. The American Legion does not want privatization of VA health care except in emergency situations and then only temporarily, until a long-term solution is achieved. Veterans believe VA’s problems can be fixed and trust can be restored. The quality of VA health care continues to outperform the private sector in study after study. Veterans do not want a reduction of quality. They just want reasonable access to care.”

The Commission on Care was expected to have finished its work by February 2016 but requested a six-month extension on the basis that more stakeholders needed to be interviewed and consulted before a complete strategy could be revealed.

The commission was structured to include at least one representative of a veterans service organization. That seat was given to AMVETS and filled by its former Executive Director Stewart Hickey, a former hospital administrator who has since parted ways with AMVETS, leaving VSOs with no seat on the commission.

“In any discussion about the future of VA, the veteran stakeholder needs a place at the table, and decision-makers need to listen,” Barnett said. “To deny veterans a voice in any such strategic planning is an invitation for failure and continued mistrust between those who served in uniform and the government they swore with their lives to defend.”

193 Comments

  1. I need a new prostetic.. i lost my left leg below the knee in 2008 after limb salvaging it two years from the injury occurring in afghanistan ambush 2006, the mechanics on my leg are beginning to fail after 4 years not going to the VA i called them and they told me i have to see one of their doctors first since i havent been in quite sometime i refused stating i wont subject my body to a person i dont have a choice on choosing who they are, i dont belong to them nor do i owe them after asking if i could instead see a private doctor they said no and i cant get a new leg, im only getting 70% disability rating and once this leg gives out i will be 100% disabled cause they denying me a leg to stand on because i retained the choice not to be forced to be seen by them, its a matter of freedom they are denying me telling me who i must subject my body too and attempting to force me who i must see, which in principal i will refuse till the day i die, i hate this country they attempt to makes slaves to the VA people who gave limbs for freedom, may God see and judge them accordingly
  2. Veterans and veterans organizations should always be included in all these commissions that are hearing veterans issues. I've used the VA for 15 years now and had good and bad experiences. I've also used the Choice Program which is'nt as easy and convenient or available as it may sound. The entire VA system needs to be reassessed and evaluated. The Affordable Care Act has doubled the enrollment numbers at VA facilities treating the less needy issues and creating less services and longer waiting periods for those the system was intended for i.e. disabled veterans. Maybe the Affordable Care Act non-disabled veterans could be handled better through other options, state or federal. I believe we have to go back to prioritizing our POW's, Medal of Honor recipients and disabled vets as the priority in VA centers and put the indigent, which currently over runs our system, back to a priority group 7 or 8.
  3. I appreciate what you are saying about disabled vets being a priority, but all vets were promised healthcare when we are most in need. I have been denied disability for over 10 years, even though I have to walk with a brace from a military-related injury.
  4. Keep on fighting and don't let the politicos have the upper hand. Reformation must take place in all arias that are lacking in service. But don't forget it's like any other government system and vets do have a choice and sometimes they have to demand it. It's their right as a vet. according to veterans affairs law. The VA has to provide the best care possible even if they have to authorize private care outside VA. Iv'e been to other VAMCs that were not as good as the care I've received from the Bill Young VAMC at Bay Pines in St. Petersburg FL. It is "State of the art" and they have saved my life a couple of times and when I developed a kidney tumor they referred me to an urologist/oncologist for additional care and possible robotic surgery. It was necessary and it was done. Veterans must realize that squeaky wheels get oiled. Any monies raised by political lobbyists will only result in filling the pockets of drug companies and special interests and would be better spent on improving the existing VAMCs in question. Believe me the care is not better in the private sector they are mainly concerned with what kind of insurance you have and when it's used up go whistle. KEEP UP THE FIGHT
  5. Privatization of the VA would be a "Huge" mistake. Only the greedy health care professionals and their political cronies would benefit. I am a 100% total & permanently disabled Viet Nam vet who has had mostly favorable experiences at my VA center in Lyons N.J. But recently several of my attending VA doctors and nurses have quit due to the VA's management's treatment of them. The doctors have stated that their patient load as at least doubled since the Phoenix incidents and instead of me being able to see my primary care doctor every six months if necessary; I have to wait for one year. The doctors; nurses and other staff have stated that they have not had pay increases for a number of years, Note: This is hard for me to either prove or disprove. Several of the doctors have requested that I contact the VA and my local representatives to complain and to demand better health care. I have done so too no avail. The good and caring doctors; nurses & staff; are leaving the VA only to be replaced by inexperienced or last in the class individuals. 1)Punish the incompetent VA individuals and get rid of them for good. Set an example and let them know that there is a price to pay for their criminal and heartless treatment of deserving veterans. 2)Elect some veterans to Congress. 3) Mandate Veteran Organizations "seats" on these policy boards, concerning veteran care. Voice your concerns to the different veteran organizations that you belong to. 4) Finally, get involved, do not take sub par treatment for granted; speak up.
  6. So the legions answer to a failed, criminal Gov bureaucracy is more Gov bureaucracy? Vets should at least have a choice. I choose private care hands down. Steve Harrison Sergeant at Arms post 33 Peters Creek Alaska
  7. It all comes down to the money.Most politicans only care about their own careers not what is best for America's veterans.Personally I think veterans should have a choice on where they get their care.
  8. I agree with you, sir. It should be our choice, not the government's and not the medical industry's.
  9. The biggest problem I see with the VA is that it is run by the Government. There backlog is due to the fact that they only work so many hours a day, they don't work holidays, the don't work weekends, and they are not on call 24/7. They get a paycheck. If they would take this out of the Government and put it in the private sector there is a lot more Veterans that would be helped before they die. Some people that have to wait for care die before they get there. Put it in the private sector and they would be taken care of and then VA can pay the private sector for services done by the your own private Doctor. I have seen private Doctors take care of patients that the VA should have taken care of and not even get a thank you let along any money from the VA and we all know that the VA has plenty of money to pay for Veterans health issues. Just look and all the money we would save on just Administration that go to helping Veterans.
  10. I was thrown back and forth for 2 months for an appointment through Veterans Choice. It will only get worse. Who is really profiting from the privatization? The insurance companies. Their rates have more than doubled in the last 7 years.
  11. My son works for the VA. Where did you get the idea they do not work weekends and or holidays. The problem with the VA is political red tape. One of the best hospitals (national rankings) has Dr.'s that also work in the nearby VA hospital. You are going to pay administrators whether the hospital is run by the government or privatized. Your arguments are invalid.
  12. Your son, where does he work? A VA hospital. But all I need is my regular doctor or even just the clinic and the one closes to me is open from 730 am to 430 pm M-F never a weekend or holiday!
  13. Wrong, wrong, and wrong. VA doctors are all on call 24/7. Are you always on call in your job? The VA ER is 24/7. All Veterans can seek emergency care at the closest ER at any time. VA is not only primary care. It is a hospital, primary care, mental health inpatient and outpatient, rehab, speech therapy, social sercices, prosthetics, diabetic supplies, endoscopy, lab, radiology, and on and on and on. Where in the private sector can anyone get all of those services in one location? And have their mental health care needs addreesed? How in the world would the private sector in a very disorganized and disjointed way handle the intense and often severe mental health needs of our Veterans?
  14. The problem with the VA is Micromanagement. People that are not healthcare professionals telling Doctors how to do their jobs. VA bulletins should be called mandates. If you look at the bulletin for pain management or testosterone management you realize the reason your meds where cut out. I would like to know how many Veterans actually took their own lives because they could not deal with the pain they experience being under medicated or no medications. The VA does not even their own policies regarding Opiod management /PAINMANAGEMENT/docs/CPG_opioidtherapy_fulltext. pdf An investigation needs to be done on this. The VA overall since the new VA secretary have not changed. People on the lower rungs of the VA need to be held accountable too. They should all be subject to termination. Some of the people that work at the VA are plain rude to the patients. IE Lexington VA On the other hand there are others that work there that are very nice to the pts. Nothing will change until the bad can be rooted out and fired.
  15. Totally agree with this gentleman's comments! Very few are familiar with dealing with PTSD patients and in most cases due to that lack of knowledge, many veterans leave the VA much more disturbed than when they arrived!
  16. You are right Ryan. This is much like the school systems in this country. You have people who have never stepped into a classroom, or in the case hospital, telling the experts how what and how much they can do. As far as rude people, well they are everywhere, in private hospitals too. This should not be tolerated anywhere.
  17. The V.A. in Decatur,ga. has the most friendly and never rude or mean to patients I use Decatur VA hospital have always received the best treatment u can get any where.all the Dr's are certfied. we have the choice plan If u have to go outside of the va,contact your choice plan,Me I'll stick with the V.A...Semper Fi
  18. I'm a 100% disabled veteran with three cancers and diabetes, all due to exposure to Agent Orange while in Viet Nam. I was able to continue working, but in a limited capacity for the last eight years. I retired at the end of 2015 and lost my work insurance. I spent a lot of 2015 looking into the Choice Program so I could continue getting my treatments at a facility outside of the VA and close to home. I was finally approved in December. When I went for my first treatment in January, I was told by my doctors office that they were not contracted with the VA - Sorry. I called the Choice Program, they did a search and evidently there are no facilities in Northwest Indiana that are contracted with the VA. I talked to a few and they said they got out of the program because the VA did not pay or took forever to do so. So what good is a program that you cannot use. This meant a two hour drive to the VA hospital in Chicago. Not good, between all the driving, run around at the VA and waiting time when you are not feeling well is no fun. After the last trip up there, while driving home I actually thought of just giving up on treatments and see what happens.
  19. It actually was not the VA that did not pay but was the contractor that Congress mandated the VA use in their knee jerk reaction to the Phoenix scandal. And the issue at Phoenix also goes onto the shoulders of our lawmakers, who had us at war for all these years but never increased funding to pay for the hundreds and thousands of additional visits needed by our returning Veterans each and every month. So the real cover up was not by Phoenix, who was trying to meet mandated performance metrics, but by Congress and lawmakers for failing those who have served. And in the end, where did the fingers point? Phoenix and not the lawmakers.
  20. Please call Mr. Roscoe Butler on Monday (202) 861-2700. He will help you get this sorted out.
  21. As a AL member and nurse I think the AL should focus on helping find the right balance of privatized and public healthcare for vets. Some things, such as rehab for head injuries, would probably best be served at a dedicated VA facility. However, most vets would be better served in day to day needs at their local healthcare setting. It is more convenient and keeps the VA from having to duplicate services already available to the vet. A TriCare type PPO network would help direct vets to the most appropriate and cost effective care facility.
  22. Dear Cmmdr: Kudos to you and the Legion of which I am a life time member: keep up your fight for the VA's existence do not throw out the baby with the bath water, nor cut off your nose to spite your face instead of privatizing the V.A. get rid of the outlaws. Yours for GOD and Country Frank P. Calderon
  23. Come on Legion Get with the program! There is ONLY one way to fix this. Anything that is health care giving related gut. Sell off every hospital fire ever doctor and administrator and janitor. Give every veteran a Healthcare Master Card good at any medical facility, whether it be Doctor's office, Hospital, Clinic, Therapist (physical and mental), Chiropractor, pharmacy.. did I leave any out?. Let the veteran negotiate a cash price which is often 40 to 60 PERCENT LOWER. Pay for it with the Card. At the end of the month the Govt. pays the Master Card bill. 1. There are not that many of us vets out there anymore. 2. It allow us to get the help we need WHEN we need it. 3. Will reduce costs as things are caught early and not months down the road while we wait for “our” appointment. 4. Will reduce costs by paying a cash price 5. Will reduce costs by not having an infrastructure to keep going 6. No one doctor or organization benefits on the other side because vets would be free to choose whoever they wanted on an individual basis. 7. It is required by the Constitution, (National defense and 5th amendment rights) 8. It is contractually obligated (If you break us you have to fix us and/or pay us) 9. It will finally start tallying up the true cost of war. In stead of fighting to fix a long dead system how about championing real reform?
  24. You are sadly misguided. Once the con artists have taken VA medical care out of the hands of the VA, they will be free to do as they please, and veterans will once again become beggars in a harsh world. The VA system serves and empowers veterans. It will once again become an ignoble thing to be a veteran, once the VA foundation has been removed and veterans will once again become the losers they were in the past. Private doctors already treat veterans as second-class patients, and their desire for more money can never be quenched. You can never pay the private doctors enough for them to be happy. The VA doctors treat the patients very well and perform their duties very conscientiously. Once these VA doctors are gone, the private sector will have a field day and begin price gouging, because there will be nothing in their way to stop them. This means all new disabled veterans in the future will have difficulty getting disability and getting treatment, because the higher privatized prices will take up more of the budget. The VA Hospital system provides better quality care than the private alternatives. I was referred out to a private urologist who wanted to change my pills to much more expensive pills because he said they interacted with my other pills. The man in charge of the VA Pharmacy said the bladder pills interacted in a good way with my other meds, not bad at all. He was correct. The oxybutinin works perfectly and I have no problems at all with any interactions. Private Doctors get kickbacks from Big Pharma.
  25. Very well stated. There is nothing more powerful than walking through the halls of the local VA and seeing the pride of our Vets who wear their service caps and shirts and talk in the waiting room about their deployments and places they have served. The VA is more than their place for medical care....it becomes a place where those Veterans reclaim an identity that played a very important role in shaping their lives. And about 40 or so percent of the staff are Veterans. The VA is not only where they get their care, but also where they spend a third of their lives.
  26. Very well stated. There is nothing more powerful than walking through the halls of the local VA and seeing the pride of our Vets who wear their service caps and shirts and talk in the waiting room about their deployments and places they have served. The VA is more than their place for medical care....it becomes a place where those Veterans reclaim an identity that played a very important role in shaping their lives. And about 40 or so percent of the staff are Veterans. The VA is not only where they get their care, but also where they spend a third of their lives.
  27. I agree. Veterans should be able to use,"Public" medical facilities for everyday and common medical issues. "Re-tool the VA to handle complex medical situations uniquely related to the service.
  28. You are factually incorrect. Not only does the local economy not have the ability or the expertise VA has with regard to treating veterans, see: nytimes(dotcom)/2014/07/06/sunday-review/long-waits-for-doctors-appointments-have-become-the-norm.html?_r=2 But civilian care will guarantee higher out of pocket expenses. In 2014 Kaiser Permanente had an operating revenue of 56.4 billion dollars, and a staff of 177,000 employees. Meanwhile, for about the same amount of money VA ran 150 hospitals, 819 CBOCs, 300 Vet Centers, 131 national cemeteries, and 56 regional offices – and they do it with a staff of 350,000 –double Kaiser’s staff. And unlike private sector physicians, VA providers are NOT eligible for overtime pay private doctors – ever. By law, VA facilitates the largest teaching hospital in the country, conducts statutorily mandated medical research, maintains emergency back up infrastructure in support of our national defense and national emergencies, processes millions of compensation claims, the appeals that result from those claims, cemeteries, processes GI Bill payments, VA Home Loan applications, insurance programs, and all while providing healthcare to millions of veterans in 50 states and the Caribbean. This is a massive budget that is broken down into hundreds of accounts and thousands of line items. Does VA have enough money? Too much money? Is it spent wisely? Are there areas where VA can save money? All valid questions – but the bottom line is – someone’s got to do it, and to date, no one has come up with a cheaper solution. Happy that your joining the conversation, sure would like to see any statistical data that supports your assertion. Congress will NEVER pony up the funds to give out veteran gold mastercards... NEVER. The costs to the government will skyrocket. If you want healthcare provided in any appreciable way to veterans, you had better stick with VA. If you don't mind watching co-pays increase, the introduction of premiums, deductibles, and catastrophic deductibles instituted, then privatize VA. If you would like to see a comparison, just look at what happened to military retiree healthcare. It went from unrestricted care on military instillations with no co-pays or deductibles, to Champus that retirees hated, to Tricare where they have not only introduced premiums which continue to go up, but now co-pays and deductibles which continue to rise while DoD screams to congress that retirees are making them go broke. Finally, you couldn't be more wrong about Dr.s not benefiting. They have already begun setting up a cottage industry to swoop in and grab Choice money. If you would like to see how a single payer system works, take a look at Medicare, one of the most fraud riddled programs in America.
  29. Here we go again: another committee/study/report, etc. More years pass by and more veterans are not receiving the medical treatment our country owes (yes OWES) them for their service. Meanwhile we continue to experience a leadership void that is really the root cause of the symptom here for certain. Who will step up to the plate and take action? Since no one can agree which of the "proposed solutions" are most likely to work for our veterans - try test solutions in several geographic areas - measure each against a standard - then modify and implement the best solution. At least our government will be doing something for our veterans that may make a difference. These committees surely haven't helped anyone. See foregoing comments from other concerned individuals for validation of this common sense proposal.
  30. You want to have the Feds running VA care, please we cannot allow the Govt. to fully control VA. The Feds have a history of screwing everything up. Let professionals help.
  31. Please excuse my grammar in my recent post. My meds have a grip this Am and I didn't proof read this "my bad!)
  32. Nam 68-69 I think the situation is much more complex than many realize. Let me ramble a bit with different scenairos that I have experienced A new Dr that has no idea of the specialty needed to treatOG effects,let alone many effects of other assignments from different campaigns. A Dr that told me not to speak till he told me I could speak (while he diagnosedme with no selk input) The same Dr kept talking while I was doubled over in pain ,yet never asked me nor physically even felt to see where the pain was from. All he did was ask the nurse to bring a basin for me to vomit in.(I took ill while in his office). When finished he got up said "I will see you in 6 months,and walked out. I drove in -no concern how I would get home at all (my family drove 30 miles toget me). When this was reported the head of Drs said "he should have done better" That Dr is still there. Other vets still hate him(A foreign Dr that odviously dislikes vets). After several referrals for orthopedic care in 2010 (by a Dr that really tried to help & was transferred from PC to urgent care). I was never given anappt dispite asking at every Dr appt. Finally after using the public opinion from a TV help line in 2015 I got an appt. I was referred to a Choice DR. in Tulsa. He told me I was beyone help (stage 3 arthritis in both knees-hips-and shoulders I am 70 and can't have major surgery now.Next came an apt by a new orthopedicDr at the VA hospital he is working hard to relieve my pain "4 years ago I could have slowed this progression doan to where you would be much better that you are" His words. After pushing every button I found a Dr in administration that is helping me get care (nero surgeon next month to look into spinal problems that may help relieve hip pain. I also found that all the time I was pushing for an apt that they didn't have an orthopedic DR. Want more? Given a cardio stress test on a tread mill(I use a mobility scooter because I can't stand for over 2 minutes). Test results "inconclusive"But no orher cardio tests nor a Dr appt. ( have had 3 heart attacks) The administrative Dr got me a chemical stress test in 7 days from when we spoke. There is more. But not necessary - most of the nurses ,technicians etc are great. A few Drs are wonderful ,but many Drs go through the motions-when referrals are put in through Veterans choice for instance they are improperly filled out and hit a dead end with no follow up at all - no notice to the patient that something is wrong,Tyhe secretary that sent the referral just ssays"I sent it in 4 months ago". Whoknows whwer it went so I fight holler push buttions over & over (this is about several differemnt medical prolems,and has gon on for years. Lets start at the top - Fire some on the spot then work our way down.Replace some Drs reward those that really try. I wish we legally could carry a pocket voice recorder every time I was at an apt or a desk,and that we had an advocate with authority that wasn't reporting to the hospitaladminstrator. We need a voice! I don't think the VA needs to be replaced but made accountable. and we need the option to step outside when care isn't provided without approval of the very machine that isn't doing its job. I welcome responses & criticism .
  33. I think the Vets should get a choice. The Kansas City VA is so over crowded that you have to drive around for 20-30 minutes to find a place to park. 30 days or more for MRI. It feels like they would rather go to outside sources so they would not have to deal with you.
  34. You could substitute Decatur, GA (Atlanta)for Kansas City and, I suspect most other VA centers. There is no designated parking area for staff so they have to spend equal amounts of time searching for parking each day. When I first signed up for VA, it took more than a year to get accepted. Then my first appt. was set for three months out. We submitted a list of the meds I was taking at the time. The VA response was timely, (about ten days). The only problem was that the two I needed most, for narcolepsy and diabetes, were not shipped, "Because they are not in our formulary." My private doctors have had several years to work out what meds work best for me. VA wants me to start over with cheap, ineffective drugs that may make my condition worsen. Each person I have come in contact with at VA has been courteous and helpful. VA's regulations are the stumbling block.
  35. I think the Legion should EMBRACE private care as the First Choice with certain exceptions DIRECTLY unique to veterans, e.g, PST, Agent Orange, etc. The track record of the VA bureaucracy is poor. Give Vets More Choice and BOTH their care and their opinion about their care will improve.
  36. I am a veteran and receive care through the VA system. For the last 44 years i have been a health insurance broker. If anyone believes the private sector offers a better choice of providers they have obviously not been paying attention to the Affordable Care Act issue. The concept of universal care for all through the private sector has been at best mediocre. This forum is too limited to elaborate, but suffice it to say "be careful what you ask for."
  37. The Govt. has no business in healthcare at all with one exception and that is for Veterans. It is Constitutionally mandated. (National defense and 5th amendment) see my post above details, everybody else should be completely private.
  38. WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT!!! The 5th Amendment covers Due Process, Eminent Domain, Double Jeopardy, Self Incrimination... The United States Constitution does NOT guarantee healthcare for veterans. In 1789, with the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, the first Congress assumed the burden of paying veterans benefits. The first federal pension legislation was passed in 1789. It continued the pension law passed by the Continental Congress. By 1808 all veterans programs were administered by the Bureau of Pensions under the Secretary of War. Subsequent laws included veterans and dependents of the War of 1812, and extended benefits to dependents and survivors. You consistently offer incorrect facts to support your argument that VA should be private. You are entitled to your opinion, but don't try to fabricate facts that aren't true to support them.
  39. I totally agree with Mr. Celli. The individual who said the Constitution provided for veteran's care does not know anything about the constitution. The VA is an excellent institution providing exceptional care to countless veterans at a cost they could never receive in the private sector. Just like in the private sector you can find an occasional bad apple but you'll never find VA doctors using individuals for their financial gain.
  40. I am a veteran and receive care through the VA system. For the last 44 years i have been a health insurance broker. If anyone believes the private sector offers a better choice of providers they have obviously not been paying attention to the Affordable Care Act issue. The concept of universal care for all through the private sector has been at best mediocre. This forum is too limited to elaborate, but suffice it to say "be careful what you ask for."
  41. When virtually no one in the current administration is a veteran, it is not surprising the leadership, appointed by the same group, has no idea what to do. What's worse is leaders that fail to ask for advice on matters they clearly have no knowledge.
  42. I see nothing wrong with developing a "hybrid" program which at its heart would provide vital "flexibility" to Veterans. Given the snails pace "progress" of VA care reform, exploring this type of option makes sense. What is currently disgraceful about the entire issue of VA care, is that despite uncovering staggering abuses and criminal activity, little has been done to either improve the system or punish the offenders.
  43. If you don't see any problem with this proposal, just take a look at ObamaCare. Congress deadlocked until the door was opened for Medical/Professional access (you are penalized through an IRS-collected money grab if you don't have private insurance). I think that a comprehensive single-payer system patterned after the VA Healthcare system (with provisions for private-sector add ons) would far better serve everyone.
  44. I personally agree with privatizing VA health care. I receive no care at the VA because they do not recognize my disability even though I am rated for it. My own VA doctor said that I was better off in the civilian medical care system shortly before he left the VA. In fact, all of the doctors who have treated me with respect have left the VA with the exception of one good doctor who is retired and works part time at the VA to serve veterans.
  45. Veterans who have the VA providing their health care, must realize that the increasing use of nurse practitioners, in the real world of the current VA, is a dumbing down of the system. Individually, if the NPs fulfill the function of assessing the needs of the patient and making appointments, sending them to appropriate areas of the system, or providing medication from the pharmacy, or in fact, any one of the duties they ARE competent to provide, all would be well. All too often that is not the result. The real result is that they act as clerks with unlimited authority. When they attempt diagnosis beyond their ability, or refuse for inappropriate reasons, to make needed appointments they fail their function. In short, the NPs, all too often, are not up to the job. Regardless of how much medical information fills their heads, in consort with the rules and regulations of VA governmental system, the result is often a PROCRUSTEAN BED* for the Veteran who cannot shop around for a new doctor within the system. * “The “bed of Procrustes,” or “Procrustean bed,” has become proverbial for arbitrarily—and perhaps ruthlessly—forcing someone or something to fit into an unnatural scheme or pattern.” I am against privatization, but I am all for giving patients more and better control of their own health care within the VA. It would be a step in the right direction. There are good people at the VA but as long as administration adopts the current mode for adjusting the system it will fail veterans, the employees and the public that demands reform.
  46. As a retired Msgt I watched in amazement as the DOD essentially dismantled the so called promised (verbally) medical care system disappear. Then Tricare magically appeared. I was also told that after military retirement if I didn't live close to an MTF VA would always be there for me. Upon retirement from a 2nd career and registering for VA care it seems like I find myself in whats called category 8, essentially bottom of the heap and it would seem from things I read that in retirement my income is too high such that if I really needed VA Care I'd likely be croaked before I got an appointment. I make this statement being fully knowledgeable of the delays in the system that were initially exposed in Denver. I'm a firm believer that the basic idea of all this business is to eventually have everyone stuck into the obamacare system.It wouldn't surprise me if TriCare in all forms disappeared. If I read right DOD is complaining about the high cost of medical care under that already. It's damn high time the government stopped sending our people to fight wars in every shithole around the globe since it seems ike they don't want to care for the hurt that comes out of these conflicts. Even the old Soviet Union learned they couldn't take care of the world. Again why are we in Afghanistan, Iraq, and a host of other places. Nothing will ever change in those places no matter what we do.Bring the troops home and let them help the border patrol to close the leaks. Our taxes should be going to help our own people not going to provide benefits to people here illegally.
  47. The government has been trying to "fix" the VA for over 20 years to no avail. In fact it has gotten worse and worse, scandal after scandal, with a bloated bureaucracy which serves only to protect and reward those incompetent nabobs. It is well beyond time to abolish the VA, and give Veterans a "VetCare" card (i.e. Medicare) where we can go to any local doctor or hospital of our choice, and not have to drive 25 miles to be treated like cattle.
  48. "“In any discussion about the future of VA, the veteran stakeholder needs a place at the table, and decision-makers need to listen,” Barnett said. “To deny veterans a voice in any such strategic planning is an invitation for failure and continued mistrust between those who served in uniform and the government they swore with their lives to defend.”" I find this practice not uncommon with the VA. y perspective is that local VA medical/dental facilities pretty much know what they want, and do not want to be confused by the needs of veterans. It is easier to rationalize the wants of doctors, dentists, or staff than take time to accomodate the needs of the veteran.
  49. NO NO NO to any form of privatisation of Veterans Health care pt choice is a joke 30 and a drop in visit to my senator to get a appointment. priver care only thinks of you as a dollar sign that's it you go priver you get free treatment for your service connected and obamacare for the rest of you. that you will be paying for. contrary to most of the opinions here there is no free lunch. the VA goes private you will pay out of pocket for everything. our system is not broken it is alive and will. the senior executive branch is the only necessary part of the VA that needs to be done away with. they are the ones pushing for privatisation. that want to be insurance carriers and out of the spot light so they can continue to line there pockets out of the federal treasury. I'm ashamed to see fellow Vets lining up to drink the koolaid. what makes any of you think you can get better service out of the privet sector? been in the system since 89 I was late starting. then I took a job at the VA retired with over 20 years there. I have seen the system work. the people working in the smaller VAs do care for the veterans and put them first. the big hospitals have big problems we need more smaller VAs not larger ones of chrome and glass full of brass. that's were the health care truly is. private sector is for me one Dr and 3 PAs in a community of 4000. this 80% connected Vet is not going to get any help there if the 1500 VA out pt visits are funneled threw the local clinic. the only other choice is over 60 miles either north or south with nothing east or west for over 200 miles. it time you big city boys stop and think about someone else that has no other choice. get you head out of you ass and see what is going on in other places that don't have you resources. for a large part of this country you depend on to eat the VA is the only health care. there is no other choice. we rural vets supplied more military personal per 1000 population they any other sector and your just casting us aside as having no consequence in you fight to get free health care. let me tell you, you win we all lose. privatisation is the road to hell for your health care your ability to get compensation and your VA benefits. you dim wits that think it's a republican or democratic issue forget about 18 trillion in debt and how easily tossing us aside will ease that. you get your free card or voucher in 5 years you will be paying a high deductible for every visit in 10 you will be moved to state aid with nowhere to turn. the problem with the VA is the same in every branch or twig of the government service. it's upper management not doing there job. same as this committee set up by them. the money spent on this committee would supply anyone of us free healthcare for life. it's not about money it's about how can we get out from under the task of taking car of these vets. I know lets privatise them and slowly sluff them off on the states in a disguise of better servicing them. first we decrees services a little bit at a time and that will encourage then to get on the wagon. will I see a lot of riders in these comments.
  50. For the most part I agree with Mr. Renstrom. Privatization of the VA would be the downfall of health care for all veterans. Those veterans who think for one moment that their care would be better must be on the crazy side. The outside interests would like nothing more than to be able to rape the veteran for whatever financial gains they would receive from privatization of the VA. There are countless incompetent physicians in the private sector who have patients wait over an hour to be seen and in the end render inconceivably poor or improper care. You only have to keep up with the news to find doctors who have amputated the wrong limbs, gave disastrous advise leading to pain and even death. Outside doctors are on a strict time schedule as their income depends upon it. I have ben in the medical field for over 40 years and have seen or known about almost everything. If you don't like the care you receive at the VA---Get out of it and pay your way in the private sector. Thank God for the VA.
  51. Been treated @ Fall River Jct, VT for 8yrs. No issues, always with respect. If we privatized, the care givers that are ripping Medicare will flourish.
  52. The quality of health care I receive at the VA here in Vermont is the best I've ever had, including BC/BS,HMOs and anything else. I understand that VA health care is not equal throughout the U.S. I know this for a fact because I lived in Chicago up until 13 years ago. VA health care in Chicago was an absolute abomination! When I finally did get an appointment in Chicago I would have to sit in an overcrowded waiting room for several hours after my scheduled appt. time. That all changed when I moved to Vermont and started getting my health care in Rutland and at the White River Junction, VT VA hospital. I have a service connected disability and it would be disastrous to suddenly have to live with an insurance based health care system. The VA does not need to privatize its system. It needs to re-allocate its resources to locations that are understaffed.
  53. My husband is a Vietnam veteran suffering from AO related cancer.I am so thankful he was able to get Medicare so he can get away from the VA. He has suffered from severe blockages and painful neuropathy in his legs since 2008.The VA did NOTHING to treat him for this.In fact, they stated that he might as well face the fact that he would lose his legs to amputation. When he got Medicare in 2014 and went to a civilian hospital, the vascular dept. said his arteries were in such bad shape due to no treatment; they have done several stent surgeries but his condition is beyond repair. I despise the VA and how my husband had to beg and plead for help- and they did absolutely nothing but talk down to us like we were the scum of the earth.I can't count how many times I left the VA in tears.My husband is 100% SC. He is in pain 24/7 and it breaks my heart. I am scared of snakes and can't stand them, but I wouldn't even send a copperhead to the VA.
  54. I strongly agree with you, Felicia. My husband was diagnosed with cancer after rushed to a nearby hospital because his neck swelled up so much he couldn't breath. This happened on a Saturday. He was immediately transferred to a larger hospital that could deal with his issue. These hospitals were not VA facilities and because of this no bills have been paid by the VA, although the VA is taking responsibility for his cancer (Agent Orange) they refuse the pay any bills because we did not get approval for this. We tried when he was admitted but at the time the VA refused approval. I could go on and on about this, but to make a long story short, because of the quick response at the hospital, he started chemo on Tuesday. He was not able to get into the VA until a month and a half later. He would have been dead. Who go stuck with the bills, Medicare and and the remaining was is our problem. Thank you VA for supporting the military keeping YOU safe. I feel bad for VA employees, it is not their fault that a STUPID VA Administration has NO idea what is going on and how many Vets this administration has failed!!!!!!!
  55. I have been extremely satisfied with the VA system in Seattle WA and would not be alive today without them. They have support me in every way. Private for emergency only!!!
  56. I am a disabled Vietnam vet and have been dealing with the VA system for the last 45 years and I can say honestly that the care I am currently receiving at the American Lake hospital in Washington State is light years ahead of any care I ever received from any private practice doctor.If the VA were ever to become a for profit system it would be the end of quality care for those who have served our country.
  57. If I were King (or Bob) I would dissolve VA's union, set up 5 or 6 VA centers of excellence with each specializing in one treatment area, i.e. PTSD/Mental Health, TBI (Walter Reed), prosthetics and rehabilitation, burns (San Antonio), etc. These centers would be for our most severely injured/wounded veterans. Veterans would be transported to and from the appropriate center free of charge and inexpensive visitor housing would be available for qualifying family. I would hold a selection board and offer positions to the best current VA employees (Dr.'s, nurses and support staff). We would adjust pay for the cost of living, pay moving expenses and update the 5 or 6 specializing centers. The remaining non-selected VA medical employees would be released to compete and fill the civilian shortages that already exit in society. The VA unused facilities would all be closed and sold off. ALL veterans would receive a medical card that would pay more to civilian providers than Medicare and the gov't would be directly billed. This plan would provide veterans with choice, save money on personnel and benefit costs, save on infrastructure costs, help fill civilian shortages of doctors and nurses, and provide choice and flexibility to ALL veterans. AND ALL veterans have a card for 10% off at Lowe's, etc!
  58. The bottom line is always money. What you propose would cost so much more, that we veterans would be required to pay so much out of pocket that we would not be able to go to see doctors at all. There would be no money available for new disabled veterans to come into the system. All the costs of care would increase greatly. Once the VA structure is defunded, it becomes even worse, and then everyone will want to destroy it, with the result that the private sector will raise all prices. The current VA system needs more money put into it, not less. Also, your proposal of free transportation would not work out to be free. We veterans have always shouldered any extra costs, and any extra costs always will be given to the veterans. Just look now at the extra costs paid by retirees for Tricare.
  59. Give the veterans that require routine medical care vouchers to see their private Dr. to allow the VA to help the vets who need the most. I don't go to the VA for routine care because I don't want to take time from those of us that really need the VA care.
  60. Before we do privatization of care lets get the hundreds of thousand backlogs of first files and add on's cleaned up. This is the priority. The so called committee should be looking at the benefits protocol that are way out of dates for specific medical conditions not based on illness progression. The restructuring of care requires a total Senior Executive Service management, not Presidential politicians. The field employees are not concerned with those short termer's but will work with one of their own. We should petition the President to disband this Commission for various reasons especially no Veteran members on the Committee. Another thought disband the Appeals Board and let the field offices handle claims finalize and as required the benefit of doubt is not the VA but the claimants honesty who served. Stop nitpicking claims for minor deficiencies.
  61. Please do not allow the VA Health Care System to become privatized!!! I am very happy with the care they provide me. The private system can not do better where I live.
  62. pat C. ; you are one on the very, very few veterans that received consistently good care. as for me i spent over a year complaining of severe neck and left shoulder pain back in 2009, not untill 2010 did the vamc finally send me to their pm clinic, and here comes the real kicker; only a examination was preformed on me by a single doctor in those 10 months. no imaging of my cervical spine or shoulder was preformed at all; someone figure that one out. i had to go outside the va and have an mri preformed which showed an annular tear at c-5 two hernaited disks, bone spurring etc. well i took this back to my va pc and he read it and looked up at me and said; well i guess your pretty upset/ i spent almost 2 years in severe chronic pain and the va did squat. now someone tell me how you get sent to a va pm clinic and they do no imaging for 10 full months? if your going to make a comment about that think real good first.
  63. the private insurance industry is a for profit. The way they have increased profit over the years has been to cut care or refused to cover care. Any commission or committee that is going to have a say it VETERAN health care MUST HAVE VETERANS ORGANIZATIONS on it. We do not need need the bean counters deciding on our care.
  64. Give Veterans an insurance card similar to a Blue Cross/Blue Shield and let the Veteran choose what Doctor or hospital he or she wants to use just like anyone else that has a Blue Cross/Blue Shield card. If the V.A. hospitals are as great as the American Legion seems to think, then the V.A. hospitals don't have anything to worry about.
  65. I was wondering if your idea would be better for are vets myself. Would it save money just to shut down VA hospitals and give our vets medicare or private insurance. Lets give those men and women that served our country the best care possible.
  66. Give all bets a card that can be used everywhere in US bills paid by the government. No cost to vet. Use VA medical budget to pay all bill is close BA Hospitals.
  67. I agree. I think there is a legitimate question about the quality of VA "care."
  68. Right now your BC/BC copay, annual deductible, and catastrophic maximum don't apply to VA care. Are you saying that they should?
  69. If we change to a private care control to by the state we can loose our disability. In my case i received a notification about my loss of vision over many years later i got the letter and before i could respond the state AHCCS denied it with no questions answer loosing all of the years that i have suffer with my vision. The VA for the Veterans no one knows better than the Va working with veterans since the beginning of time and must say that our commander has no idea as to how to or threat it.
  70. Go ahead and privatize it, and then require that all Congress beasts use it.
  71. I am sorry for all of the veterans who have a problem with the V.A. I get treated at the V.A. At Kansas City and I get wonderful care I have been being seen there since 1991 after getting hurt in Iraq and I have to say at first I can't say I was always happy. It was dirty in a lot of areas and you never knew who you were going to be seen by. But now you have your primary care Dr. And I have had mine for about 15 years. It doesn't matter what clinic you are seen in the people are curtious and polite and always thank you for serving. My vote is to keep the V.A. Retired CW3
  72. I agree that veterans should be represented, however. I do not agree that all veterans would be better off in private care Much depends on where you live and the VA or private care available. I find the VA care far superior generally in my area "One size is not going to fit all"
  73. I agree that veterans should be represented, however. I do not agree that all veterans would be better off in private care Much depends on where you live and the VA or private care available. I find the VA care far superior generally my area "One size is not going to fit all"
  74. I agree that veterans should be represented, however. I do not agree that all veterans would be better off in private care Much depends on where you live and the VA or private care available. I find the VA care far superior generally my area "One size is not going to fit all"
  75. I agree that veterans should be represented, however. I do not agree that all veterans would be better off in private care Much depends on where you live and the VA or private care available. I find the VA care far superior generally my area "One size is not going to fit all"
  76. I agree that veterans should be represented, however. I do not agree that all veterans would be better off in private care Much depends on where you live and the VA or private care available. I find the VA care far superior generally my area "One size is not going to fit all"
  77. The problem with the VA is that it's a government agency and that it's big. Since the dawn of recorded history those two are the primary reasons for worthless organizations. Lobbying to keep the VA as a large, government organization does a disservice to our veterans. Privatize it, with competitive bidding on a regular basis to insure good service
  78. The problem is that the people think privatization is the answer. Well, it's not.
  79. I've worked in civilian healthcare for 30 years, worked at a VA hospital for two years, and retired after 22 years in the Army. (yeah, means I'm getting old!) I've made my kids promise that they would never put me in a VA hospital. The standard of care is not up to community hospitals, way too much of a civil service attitude. There are excellent people working in the VA health system and I've served on active duty with many of them, but the organization is broken beyond repair. Veterans would be much better served by converting the benefit to an insurance policy and let us choose where we get our care.
  80. I agree with MajorDuc 100%. My father-in-law might have lived longer and happier had been treated by private doctors. The civil service attitude is definitely the majority attitude in any government run facility. Fore some reason a civil servant thinks that he/she can mess up pretty bad and it would take an act of congress to be dismissed. Competition keeps private doctors and their staffs on their toes. There is entirely too much waste, fraud, and abuse in the VA system. One thing I wonder is if the VA is so good why do we need organizations like Wounded Warrior to take care of our vets? Trying to solve the issue with a government formed committee is not going to work because it will become so influenced by lobbyists that it will be as ineffectual as Congress.
  81. Good question. Why do we need Wounded Warriors? Because the VA system does not do a good job of taking care of our vets. But should we scrap the whole thing, in favor of private systems ( like Wounded Warriors, which will skim off more millions of dollars )? I think not. My late wife, and others like her, were/are dedicated caregivers. Let's fix the existing system, to aid thousands, rather than destroy it to enrich a few. My father was a WWII vet, and my brother and I Viet Nam vets. As wars come and go, we are saving more veterans on the battlefield, increasing the load on the VA Hospital system. Is the system coming up short? Certainly, but let's work to improve it, not chuck it all away.
  82. i am an 80% disabled veteran and know full well the workings of the V/A. would i like to see something better, sure. a friend of mine who supports donald trump tells me the V/A sucks. i asked him if he has ever been to a V/A hospital, he said to me i am not a vet so why would i go....then he said, veterans should be allowed to go to any doctor on the government dime...i agree'd 100%. then i asked him who is going to pay for it?? he said the government, i said u do realize speaker of the house paul ryan and sen leader mitch mcconnel will never ever go for it, doesnt matter if the president is obama, clinton, trump, or who ever...
  83. Looks like the American Legions Commander is on the wrong side of the VA problems. Asking Congress to keep the VA running and out of the hands of private doctors and hospitals is shameful and the vets are the ones suffering. Congress created the VA problems by allowing the Unions access to the employees and it has created a culture inside that allows corruption, theft, and disregard for patient care. Solution is to give all the VA medical card carrying Vets permission to seek medical care from any doctor and medical facility that he or she feels will help them the most.
  84. So it's the employees fault ! And private systems, including Wounded Warriors, do not have issues with graft and corruption ? And who will pay for this new private system ? The most highly compensated CEO's in the country run health care companies,and you want to make them richer. Fix the system, fire the corrupt and incompetent, make it better ! Gee, maybe we should apply that to Congress, too?
  85. Blaming the V.A.'s problem on unions is complete BS. Another brain washed Foxbot strikes again.
  86. I have been at a VA facility and heard guys bragging about how they can screw off and not get caught. Until we get rid of that BSC philosophy it won't change.
  87. Read the news an follow the Congressional investigations. There can be no accountability as long as the numbskulls who lead the VA are protected by Civil Service. This is worse than an "Union." Trade unions like electricians and carpenters compete on quality and service. Public Service unions and the Federal so-called "unions" are nothing of the kind.
  88. I agree with the effort to privatize the VA. The Government can't run anything efficiently. First, the VA should only be for people on active duty in conjunction with base supplied medical care. Veterans care should be privatized.
  89. i am a nave veteran from the early 70' giving veterans the ability with no strings attached whatsoever to go to non-va medical centers and have their care whereever they wish is exactly what needs to be done. we are the one's who bore the burden, signed a contract with the people and this nation that our lives may be required. that's a pretty strong statement to sign. give us the free choice to see any doctor or hospital anywhere in this our country. and you will see that you have indeed done a great service to those who payed for your freedom!
  90. RE: VA should be for people on active duty. I guess from that statement that you have never been in the Military. Active duty personal come under the best health care system there is. What about a veteran (one who HAS served)that has been injured and no longer can serve due to his health. Or from agent orange from service in Vietnam. Is he supposed to rot away. Personally if that is what you mean then your freaking head is screwed on backwards. Oh and by the way, I am an 8 year Air Force Veteran.
  91. This retoric sounds like the days I spent standing in the chow line, so the poiititions got rid of the unit mess hall for a post mess operated by a civilian contractor which SUCKED..A living example of a privatized VA is the current Choice VA program or by its real name Health Net a private or civilian Health insurance company who is charging veterans CO pays, restricting access, denying veteran care, deciding who u can see and how many times u can be seen if at all. In other words, they are doing what every other private sector health insurance co. Is doing..lining their pockets... The VA has some issues, but I challenge all to find a larger single healthcare entity with a stronger since of veteran healthcare needs than the VA. Instead of pissing n moaning about this VA, stop it's perpetual raping by politicians, return the care back to us the veteran and fight for inclusion of all veterans, not those with low incomes n be rid of the means test thereby including ALL of us not punishing those with higher paying jobs or better retirements. After all, when we were all standing in the chow line bitching, weren't we serving in the same military. There were no means test done before we served, why then now are we restricting care to the same buddies we once served with. Because they are successful civilians.... By the way I get my care at Ft. Meade VA in the Black Hills of SD. Having seen a great number of VA facilities, This is the one I chose...Go Army....
  92. I am 100% service, and I don't want my care private. You must not be a vet or you just don't care.
  93. Carla B. I am also rated at 100% and I get great care through the VA. IF they can't do it then they send you to someone who can. Do you all want to end up in a welfare hospital situation ??
  94. i am all for killing the V/A and letting our veterans seeking private healthcare on their own....as a 80% disabled veteran i know full well the workings of the V/A, now who will pay for it??? the republicans that control congress will never go for it, especially sen leader mitch mcconnel and speaker ryan
  95. VA health system is an out of control mess. True, some places may be great and have wonderful facilities, but government run programs in general deliver poor products at a higher cost and no punishment for crooks or incompetence. The Legion no longer speaks for me, I'll gladly take high quality private care in nice clean facilities over poor attitudes, facilities that stink like urine and look like they belong in a third world country.
  96. I receive great service at my VA (Fort Meade near Sturgis, SD) and I do not want to see it go private. If you think there are problems now, if we went private I see the problems increasing dramatically. All they really need to do is remove the union from the VA and fire some people. If you don't perform, you're out.
  97. Fred, it is easy to say "...remove the union...", but it will never happen; lobbyists will see to that.
  98. I was a health care professional in the VA for 30 years. I can say with absolute assurance that the system has great people .. just not to many. I can slso say that the system has terrible people, both administrators and care providers...all to many. No one is held accountable for poor performance. The system was broken 30 years ago when I started and has never been fixed. Why does anyone think it can be fixed now? It is purely political medicine and as such can only react to the political system which is also broken regardless of the party in power. As a former health care provider in the VA I will say I would never go there for my own health care.
  99. The problem with the VA is accountability and I moved to Central Florida and it's over 8 yrs and they still don't have the hospital open and the director is getting pay raises! The Va choice isn't bad, for at least the provider bills the the VA insurance.I was hospitalized in Cleveland and Orlando after getting hit by drunk driver. They took over three years to pay the bills leaving me with bad credit. Yes the 30/60/90 delinquencies and collections ruined my credit The VA is run like the federal government for I had a lady in billing tell me a bill passes through 7 desks before it gets to her or one person who knows what their doing to get it paid. The VA's coding system is not compatible with the outside world;Henceforth the bills keep going back and forth trying to tell the provider how to code it so the VA can pay. The VA burns down National Forrest on a annual basis and my postal worker was bogged down for I'd get 10 letters saying billed denied with one bill on each paper same date and 10 letters same showing paid 1 item per letter instead of putting all ten on one letter. It's not just the 48 cent stamp, for the 2012 consensus showed the average letter mailed out cost almost $7.50, for the envelope he data entry etc. Just like the appointment letters that I receive 3 from Orlando writing of one said appointment then post card from my primary care in Orange City,not only to call twice and the third is an auto dialer. It's like I said run like the Government for if they ran it like for in the private sector they would be out of business.
  100. I am sorry to see the VA commander fighting against privatizing VA medical care. I have a clinic about 12 miles from my home that does its best to provide service, but if I need anything involving any type of advanced medical care I need to travel 44 miles. I would be very happy to have the same options as the Medicare recipients, go to a doctor that knows me and actually cares about my personal welfare. I am 100% in favor of getting this system into the private sector.
  101. I agree with you. Giving a veteran a voucher to be used at either a VA facility or a private facility is the only way the VA will begin to respond to the problems it has. We have waited a very long time for the VA to clean up its act, and it has not.
  102. The VA needs to be OUT of the hospital and real estate business(*). All the VA should be doing is PAYING THE BILLS. A Veteran should be able to go to ANY hospital that can provide for his/her medical needs. In NLR,AR, the VA has spent $8MIL on a solar panel project that has never been plugged in (missing a $100K part) and is now to be dismantled because they installed it in a spot already designated and planned for a parking garage. What a HUGE waste of taxpayer dollars.
  103. I got very sick in April 9,2015. I was taken to private hospital on my death bed. Ambulance refused to take me to VA,knowing I was a vet. Now I have bills,which I should not. They did nothing to save my life. After getting into VA,they saved my life,no bills. But I cannot get any help ryo pay bills. I wanted to go to VA,but was refused. Six months total inb hospital. All. because the private hospital and ambulance wanteds money,thatI do not have. Thank you,VA. for saving my life.
  104. Joe Get a good lawyer and sue the Ambulance company your the patient and they have to take you to the hospital that you want it is not their choice. Also make your congressman aware and ask for their help. They will put one of their staffers on it and that strikes fear in them and gets them rolling. Best of Luck brother and thanks for your service.
  105. VA urgent care 25 miles away, closed evenings and weekends, took over 30 days to get an appointment. All other care 80 miles away. Over tested with labs and screens with no options for second opinions. Get rid of VA care and privatize.
  106. What's going on here? Like others, I tried to comment about my displeasure with National HQ for opposing the OPTION of private health care (important to those of us who live 100 miles from a VA Care Center) and was "blocked as Spam." With this many Vets asking for the option of private health care, why hasn't the Legion polled its members?
  107. Do we have a "inside the beltway" American Legion "establishment" that is in league with the GOP "establishment?" "The Establishment" of The American Legion should use caution that it not be linked to the "establishment" of either the GOP or the Democrat Party. Why? Most of us are absolutely feed up with both political parties and with outfits we support voicing support for government agencies/departments that are supposed to be helping us but are so ensnarled in their own internal issues that we are expendable while they seek to secure their own situation. Taking our support for The American Legion for granted is a great way to see it evaporate, which is what "the establishment" of The American Legion appears to be doing. Note to The American Legion, many of us are suspect of the political "establishment" and if The American Legion "establishment" is throwing in with the political establishment of either party, BEWARE, BEWARE, BEWARE!!! You are supposed to be "throwing in with Legionnaires!" Please realize that the VA is not the only supplier of services for Veterans. It is supposed to be the supplier of medical and support services attuned to the needs of veterans. However, shouldn't Legionnaires be suspect of an "American Legion" establishment that has somehow missed the fact that the VA is so self-involved/corrupt/incompetent that it no longer efficiently, effectively and sufficiently attends to the needs of Veterans?
  108. Wellborn - your writing style is rambling and lacks cohesion.Try making your point in a direct fashion.
  109. The management has made posting opinions contrary to the Legion party line - impossible. Typical - of the Indianapolis mafia.
  110. Wrong about the censorship practiced regularly by Legion threads? Wrong about the insular make up and day to day running of what goes on in Indianapolis or Washinghton? As a member - are you ever asked to vote on any given issue -Lacy? Have you ever had a say in who is selected Legion Commander? This isn't the most democratic of service groups - if you haven't noticed. I spoke to someone in Indianapolis about 2 or 3 years ago about the lack of oversight on the Wounded Warrior Project. Recently it turns out that monkey business was indeed taking place. Secrecy protects the guilty.
  111. Wrong about the censorship practiced regularly by Legion threads? Wrong about the insular make up and day to day running of what goes on in Indianapolis or Washinghton? As a member - are you ever asked to vote on any given issue -Lacy? Have you ever had a say in who is selected Legion Commander? This isn't the most democratic of service groups - if you haven't noticed. I spoke to someone in Indianapolis about 2 or 3 years ago about the lack of oversight on the Wounded Warrior Project. Recently it turns out that monkey business was indeed taking place. Secrecy protects the guilty.
  112. Wrong about the censorship practiced regularly by Legion threads? Wrong about the insular make up and day to day running of what goes on in Indianapolis or Washinghton? As a member - are you ever asked to vote on any given issue -Lacy? Have you ever had a say in who is selected Legion Commander? This isn't the most democratic of service groups - if you haven't noticed. I spoke to someone in Indianapolis about 2 or 3 years ago about the lack of oversight on the Wounded Warrior Project. Recently it turns out that monkey business was indeed taking place. Secrecy protects the guilty.
  113. Wrong about the censorship practiced regularly by Legion threads? Wrong about the insular make up and day to day running of what goes on in Indianapolis or Washinghton? As a member - are you ever asked to vote on any given issue -Lacy? Have you ever had a say in who is selected Legion Commander? This isn't the most democratic of service groups - if you haven't noticed. I spoke to someone in Indianapolis about 2 or 3 years ago about the lack of oversight on the Wounded Warrior Project. Recently it turns out that monkey business was indeed taking place. Secrecy protects the guilty.
  114. Wrong about the censorship practiced regularly by Legion threads? Wrong about the insular make up and day to day running of what goes on in Indianapolis or Washinghton? As a member - are you ever asked to vote on any given issue -Lacy? Have you ever had a say in who is selected Legion Commander? This isn't the most democratic of service groups - if you haven't noticed. I spoke to someone in Indianapolis about 2 or 3 years ago about the lack of oversight on the Wounded Warrior Project. Recently it turns out that monkey business was indeed taking place. Secrecy protects the guilty.
  115. Although the American Legion is the veteran's best friend - it is a tad bit dictatorial - it reminds me of the bartender's union in Atlantic City when it was mob controlled back in the 1970's and early 1980's.
  116. I went for help in the early 1970's at the VAMC in Philadelphia Pa. for what were then unbeknownst to me as PTSD. The young VAMC shrink told me not to talk or have anything to do with the American Legion. She told me they would "stigmatize" me. I had to go to a private shrink to get better from the 2 month's worth of harm the doctors at the VAMC had done to me.
  117. Veterans need the CHOICE of going to any Dr. in or out of the VA! Then to Break Up the VA. It is to Big! Pres. Obama through Money at the Vets with not much planning! I am a Vet. the Private Sector has done good by me so far! I have tried to get Medical through the VA about 4 times because that was what they promised me when I got back from Vietnam that night in 1968 Aug. HELP!
  118. I too was told I could have care through VA but they have not paid a dime for any of my care. They told me lately that I don't qualify because of income. But when I left the Navy in Nam they told me I could have care. Every time I try to put in a claim, I am denied or they say I have to have pre authorization which would be 5-10 days. If it is an emergency then go to the local emergency room. I just wished they would help the veterans as promised.
  119. Veterans need the CHOICE of going to any Dr. in or out of the VA! Then to Break Up the VA. It is to Big! Pres. Obama through Money at the Vets with not much planning! I am a Vet. the Private Sector has done good by me so far! I have tried to get Medical through the VA about 4 times because that was what they promised me when I got back from Vietnam that night in 1968 Aug. HELP!
  120. The party of the wealthy and the party of the people should consider the veteran and his concerns since he served all the people.
  121. I retired/left the VA last November because I could no longer morally or ethically work for the organization. I was in a management position in Loan Guaranty and our sole purpose was to ensure that we exceed our production numbers so that the Director would be eligible/receive her bonus. Based on my experience, privatizing VA is not the answer. The only reals answer is to remove and replace all VA management at the GS 15 level and above; then you may actually see some change. As it is now most VA senior management were promoted from within and only work towards the annual bonus payouts. I am not sayng that they do not, at some level, want to serve Veterans better - only that they don't know how.
  122. finally some one with a sense of reason in all this babble from people that most likely have never even been in a VA.
  123. Look what happens when they Privatized The United States Postal service and put a CEO in charge all messed up!!!
  124. PRIVATIZATION is all about PROFITEERING. FIX the VA Health System. Privatization whether it is with the VA, Education, the Prison system is about making a ton of money. It is about cutting corners to save money and is not about you. Operate the VA in an efficient business-like manner but keep it out of the hands of the profiteers. FIX IT.
  125. I have been receiving medical care through The Pittsburgh VA Healthcare System for nearly 2o years. In that time span I have never had any problems getting appointments or any medical attention that the VA provides. I have found professionalism in every department plus fast courteous care. Any health problem that I had was attended to very quickly. The VA Healthcare System surpasses any private hospital or doctor that I had prior to the VA. I shudder to think what privatizing the system will do.
  126. Well it kind of sucks in Ohio. I Feel like a begger when I go in there! I'm treated like an idiot. In would leave if I could afford all the medication they have me on. So I'm stuck in Ohio.
  127. A large problem is Federal employees are protected by law that prevents a true evaluation of employees that would normally lead to termination and perhaps criminal charges in the private work environments. Such was the case of Diana Rubens and Kimberly Graves. But this extends to all federal jobs and should immediately be eliminated by our sitting congress members, president and discussed by our presidential candidates. That however would be a touchy issue that no one wants to bring up. Their was a law passed to improve that in 2014 but Obama promised to veto it and it has not been brought forward. That law however is still weak. 2) People like the two mentioned above have a lot of power in contract awards. It should be criminal with a minimum jail sentence AND loss of all benefits. But with that everyone in the government doesn't want that. So quit crying and go out and vote for "NONE OF THE ABOVE", in other words get all the older incumbents out of the house and set term limits.
  128. Let's see urgent care 40 miles away. Closed at night most of the weekend. Vs care works great if you not sick give people a choice
  129. Thank You for watching out for us Veterans. I have a problem with my neck. I had a MRI at the VA and my VA Doctor told me the that the MRI showed that surgery would not be beneficial for my problem . I went to my private Doctor and got a CT SCAN and I will be having surgery in a week to have C 3-4 and C 6-7 fused. So you have to watch the VA care because they are trying to save money. I also would like to see congress pass bill HR 969 Blue Water Sailors veterans from Vietnam. So they can get the same benefits that the other veterans with agent orange problems get.
  130. Richard just realize private physicians have to pay their bill. Don't assume that just because they say you need it that you do. You would be absolutely amazed how many surgeries are not necessary I would get an objective 3rd opinion
  131. I need the surgery because have pain in my shoulder,neck,chest and arm since last June. Did all that they wanted me to do PT shots in back for pain. That VA doctor told I should have the nerve killed. I also was showed the CT scan, and it is very clear to me what the problem is.
  132. If we think, for a New York minute, that the federal government will not control our medical care, ask a current medical provider who they are reporting to!!!
  133. As a Veteran who worked for the VA after returning from Army service after Desert Storm, I can only say that the mindset of the VA is to protect the military, ration care, and deny that a health problem exists. The majority of clinicians at the VA developed a group think attitude that Desert Storm veterans were malingering and their problems were psychological in nature. The knowledge of Chemical Weapon Bunker Demolitions in Iraq, Q-Fever, Brucellosis, West Nile Fever and Depleted Uranium exposure was not researched or validated. It is even amazing how the majority of veterans and groups, have not called for the complete release of records to the public. Similar to Agent Orange, and Vietnam Veterans, Desert Storm will one day have full disclosure, whereby the use of chemical and biological agents will ultimately be disclosed. I personally signed up at my local clinic, as a Gulf War Veteran and was given an appointment 5 months down the road.
  134. The VA Administration, scheduling/infrastructure is a disaster to all vets. Try calling "Centralized Scheduling" and listen to music for an hour. Each department has their own phone numbers and no one person is in charge. The solution is privatize it! The illegals (ISIS) and GITMO prisoners receive more help! I am a Vietmam vet and exposed to Agent Orange, (Tractor trailor 5 ton JP4 gas in convoy) and when I requested a map where is was dropped i.e. Plieku, Kontum, Dak To, the liberal leadership sent me a map of Korea!
  135. Seems like people on Medicare or Medicaid or politicians insurance paid for by tax payers have a lot better timely care
  136. Having been treated directly and indirectly by 4 different VAMC (two in Florida, One each in GA and TX) I can say that I experienced only two issues in 10 plus years I have been in the system. One (a regional billing issue for an emergency) would have been experienced in any medical system. The other was resolved in under an hour by a patient rep., something that I have NEVER experienced (quick resolution) in the private sector. Veteran's Choice program allows access to private medical care at the VA's expense if a timely resolution (namely appointments in a reasonable time or specialty care not available at the VAMC) is not available. This is as private as the VA needs to get.
  137. I have been served by VA since 1994 when it was found I had laryngeal cancer. VA did a remarkable operation and since I have been a patient at Dorn VA in Columbia,SC. The doctors here gave me back my ability to speak, have been compassionate and caring and over all provide excellent service. Could it be better? I suppose - don't we always try to do better in life? But don't blame the doctors and care givers at VA they do all they can with what they have to deal with. Provide them with better facilities and more of them and they will do fine.
  138. I strongly wish the VA would work on out side Prescriptions Provider's... This would help us get our Medications when Needed and not 2 wks... Later.... When we Medication we would like it now!!! Vietnam, Vet. 1968 to 1969
  139. Congressionally appointed committee tells me ALL I need to know, Republicans giving Veterans the shaft again! :(
  140. Some States have great VA Hospitals and care. With timely appointments etc. But other States do not. It is reasonable to offer Veterans a choice between private care and / or VA care.
  141. Some States have great VA Hospitals and care. With timely appointments etc. But other States do not. It is reasonable to offer Veterans a choice between private care and / or VA care.
  142. I agree with your thoughts,to bad all VA can't follow one set of policies for all vets,putting your life on the line should qualify for equal assistance no matter what time served,VA or Private.
  143. I agree with your thoughts,to bad all VA can't follow one set of policies for all vets,putting your life on the line should qualify for equal assistance no matter what time served,VA or Private.
  144. Let the free market economy work. Competition is good. Privatize VA healthcare by removing it from self serving bureaucrats.
  145. Like the free market economy has done great things for medical care and the associated costs .... What a dupe. Privatizing VA will only get you a voucher worth a few hundred dollars. That is the plan of the Republicans and Tea Partiers, take away a pretty decent medical plan and substitute it for sub standard and expensive care.....
  146. as opposed to self serving private industry who's bottom line is controlled by shareholders.
  147. As a veteran who has been getting care from the VA for the past two years I can only say I have not had any problems and have had great care everywhere I have been. I understand the idea of privatization of the VA, but agree with the American Legion Commander this process is not going the right way. I agree the veterans should be represented in the decision making process. I hear lots of stories about how bad the VA is, but knowing the things the VA face in dealing with the returning veterans I believe it is better to continue to strive to upgrade the VA and not turn it and the vets over to the private health system.
  148. If the V.A. were properly run there would be no problem, as it is we have non veterans running most of it & they believe that vets don't deserve quailty care, not all of the VA hosp are bad, but the bad ones get the attention that bring them all down.
  149. I believe eliminating VA hospitals and staff would save millions of taxpayer dollars. If we put every veteran on Tricare for Life and let them get medical care in the civilian market it would not only save money but veterans would get better care. There may be rare cases where the VA medical system can provide unique services the civilian medical community is not capable of addressing and that could be done by small VA clinics. I think we need to look at everything and our national Commander should not speak for us as a collective body particularly when the collective body has not been given a chance to voice our opinions - much like he is accusing the special committee of doing.
  150. At present Tricare for Life recipients are still required to pay about $90.00 a month for Medicare. Why not offer a HMO type plan so everyone can pick their own medical care practicioner, they will have to pay a premium per month as Tricare for Life based on ability to pay but no co-pay. Being both a retired military and a 26 year VA medical practicioner I have seen the good (Most of the medical staff) and the bad (many of the administrative). In the years I was at the VA for 30+ years, some of my patients traveled over 90 miles, bypassing another VA Hospital because of its bad reputation. And the waiting lists were 2-3 months long and sometimes longer. I always felt that it would have been better for these patients to be seen at a facility much closer. At present I feel that the VA should close up and everyone that's eligible be seen in the private sector, as I suggested at a HMO type plan.
  151. As a Legion member and a Veterans advocate, I have to respectfully disagree with your assessment. The system is broken and many attempts to fix it has failed. Our Veterans are suffering, taxpayers monies are being misused/abused, something radical needs to be done so that our Veterans can get the care they were promised, earned and most importantly deserve.
  152. Mike, I am in full agreement with your thoughts. The administration should employ Vets, and the Administration, technology/scheduling is a joke, after many wasted taxpayer dollars have been spent with their friends. There was no specific accurate description of "the problem", (RFP) no competitive bidding, no competent administration to award and monitor completion. Six Sigma is methodology is a start, used by private industry but the government money and waste continues and all vets suffer!
  153. All that needs to be done in order to make the VA more efficient, and quicker to respond to veterans needs is better management, and adequate funding all of which can, and could be fixed by congress if the had the fortitude to do so ! Privatization would not achieve what is needed overall, and the cost would be way more than doing the right thing now, to fix the current system . It's way past the time for passing the buck from committee, too committee, or fact finding commission , too commission, and do the darn job we put these nincompoop congressman in office, to do in the first place .
  154. I've used the VA exclusively for more than 20 years for a service-connected spinal cord injury. I can tell you that comparable comprehensive care is simply not available in the private sector; the SCI community is simply too small and too geographically dispersed to be profitable in a free-market system. If the VA is privatized, the US government will be leaving many of your fellow veterans behind.
  155. I have been using the VA for 15 years now and could not be treated better in the private industry. I am lucky to be part of the Loma Linda VA system in California. Better than any private medical system I have seen in my 82 years of age.
  156. A privatized program may be better than the current government run fiasco. How many failures will it take before veterans realize we will never see a well run program as long as it's run under the government? I think it's time to take it from them and privatize. And I don't see it as a party issue. The VA has been in trouble under both parties.
  157. The present VA system serves no one well, with the exception of well paid government employees. The Veterans and the tax payers are getting taken for a ride as usual. I would like to see all veteran benefits made portable so the veteran could go at will to whom ever can provide them with the best care. These services are readily available in this country, why should we ever have to wait or suffer substandard care. They have been fixing the VA for as long as I can remember. Does anyone really think it will ever get done.
  158. I agree with MrJim Quinn, we would be better served in the free market. I have never been treated so rude by any medical establishment as the VA.
  159. well if you do not like then get out there are some of us that have no problems and I think this is better care than I could ever get in private sector
  160. The VA as it exists today is a bloated, costly and ineffective bureaucracy. We demand to much that we cannot pay for and keep passing the bill to our future generations. The post WW II VA model costs too much and delivers to little like most of our government. As such it's got to to go. To do otherwise is unpatriotic as we are part of the problem, not the solution.
  161. The VA medical is anachronistic in that healthcare is readily available, something that was not so when the VA came into being. An argument could be made for a VA mental health system (wartime PTSD and TBI). But a VA insurance card (properly funded) would make sense. The current healthcare bureaucracy is bloated and protected by civil service laws making poor service and an uncaring workforce unaccountable (how many firings have happened - not many). I right this as a stake holder - I am rated at 90%.
  162. I think that would be a disaster because private doctors would only be robbing the government with false billing.
  163. I disagree, being a medical practioner and retired from the military and also the VA I have seen both sides of the fence. In private practice the insurance companies rule the reimbursement, the physicians bill what the are allowed depending on the patient and the illness. If you get a look at any medical reimbursement records, physicians usually get 1/2 (some charges are denied)of the monies billed.
  164. Well said Eddie. While there are many problems with the VA, one must consider the size and complexity of that operation. In doing so, one can see they do a pretty decent job. Any private operation would only serve those mucky-mucks who would rape the operation.
  165. There is no party of the people & there hasn't been for a long time. Privatization would be the way to go. Government does nothing efficiently or effectively & our broken VA system is a glaring reminder of that. I agree with Jim, Paul & Brian
  166. Having just retired from working in healthcare finance at the audit, physician and hospital levels for 30+ years I do not agree with the Legion's position on privatization of VA care. Currently, much of the physician care, and most of the high specialty, difficult procedures are performed at the VA by private physicians (mostly academic) working for the VA under contract. I find it very hard to believe that going to the Medicare model and eliminating the cost of the VA's bricks and mortar wouldn't result in an overall savings to the VA as well as improving access to medical care for our veterans. There are many other pieces to this puzzle that can be discussed, but overall the biggest, and ongoing for many years, problems are quality of care and timely access for this care. Privatization would address both of these problems in a positive manner; the VA hasn't been able to properly address either of these problems for many years.
  167. Thanks VA for a great, well-thought out article. And also, to the first poster for a very clear scenario as to why moves to privatization come about. I tried to go back and see what type of articles came out in the early 2000's from the VA about the semi-privatization of our military through the use of such businesses as Blackwater but could find nothing in the archives. So, if there were no such articles, why then is anyone at the American Legion surprised now that the most recent privatization issue is before us?
  168. We the veterans definitely need representation on the committee concerning veterans care.
  169. We have seen the terrible consequences of the for-profit health scheme again and again. Why on earth would anyone want more of that. The VA has some problems, not the least of which is chronic underfunding. Some politicians are trying to undermine the VA system in order to serve their for-profit healthcare donors.
  170. Only because the for profit system is so heavily regulated by the govt. How chronic could the underfunding be when staffers by the hundreds get millions of $ in bonuses for their incompetence? Open it to competition which has always been the reason for the success of our economic system.
  171. As a veteran and a Legionaires I strongly disagree with National Commanders position. I firmly believe that American Veterans will be better served by the free market than by government beauracrats.
  172. And if you think the government is going to foot the bill for that, you should think again. In 2014 Kaiser Permanente had an operating revenue of 56.4 billion dollars, and a staff of 177,000 employees. Meanwhile, for about the same amount of money VA ran 150 hospitals, 819 CBOCs, 300 Vet Centers, 131 national cemeteries, and 56 regional offices – and they do it with a staff of 350,000 –double Kaiser’s staff. And unlike private sector physicians, VA providers are NOT eligible for overtime pay – so this weekend when VA conducts its second “Access Standdown” in an attempt to zero out backlogged appointments, VA will incur very little additional expense while serving veterans. I’m not sure we can expect the same level of dedication from the private doctors – ever. By law, VA facilitates the largest teaching hospital in the country, conducts statutorily mandated medical research, maintains emergency back up infrastructure in support of our national defense and national emergencies, processes millions of compensation claims, the appeals that result from those claims, cemeteries, processes GI Bill payments, VA Home Loan applications, insurance programs, and all while providing healthcare to millions of veterans in 50 states and the Caribbean. This is a massive budget that is broken down into hundreds of accounts and thousands of line items. Does VA have enough money? Too much money? Is it spent wisely? Are there areas where VA can save money? All valid questions – but the bottom line is – someone’s got to do it, and to date, no one has come up with a cheaper solution.
  173. Well said Brother Dale! Thanks for your continued vigilence on behalf of all our sister & brother veterans. We support you 100%. Keep Going! Currahee, Paul D. Amato
  174. Well said Brother Dale! Thanks for your continued vigilence on behalf of all our sister & brother veterans. We support you 100%. Keep Going! Currahee, Paul D. Amato
  175. I am a veteran and believe that a veterans representation and real veterans should be on that committee stay out of our business private sector
  176. The system is broken. A true free market health care system would be the best option for everyone around. I like the idea of the VA is only for veterans injured during service.
  177. You might want to look at the Political parties of the congressmen who appointed this commission. See if they belong to the Party of the wealthy or the party of the people. Most of us veterans would fit better in the party of the people. But for some reason tend to support the party of the wealthy who would benefit from taking veterans care away from the government and turning it over to people who's motivation is profit.
  178. Which party is for the "wealthy" & which is for the "people"? If you are still believing there is a 2 party system, you may want to look into that.
  179. There hasn't been much of a "free market" in healthcare in my lifetime. The current "private pay" patients are almost entirely wealthy people like Rush Limbaugh and Donald Trump, not the average worker or veteran. There certainly isn't enough money to pay the high premiums and high deductibles under Obamacare and then have money to pay doctor and hospital bills on top of that. My wife is currently paying $367/mo. for Obamacare with a $3,000 deductible. If I had to pay that as well (which I would were it not for VA) we would no longer be even "lower" middle class. I just don't see how the "free market" is going to save health care. If you're having a heart attack or a stroke, it's not like buying a car and shopping around for the best deal on your own time -- you have to have somewhere you are going to go, NOW. I can't see how a "privatized" VA is going to be like or better than Medicare. It does need to be reformed, but to be, as the Legion says, more patient-centered; in other words, putting more emphasis on "VETERANS" and "HEALTH" and less on "ADMINISTRATION".
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