In Miami, there is a VA Hospital literally across the street from the County’s major public health hospital, and another two more operated by the University of Miami. Now, I can understand several hospitals being located in close proximity to one another; but, why does the Government have to be competing with the private sector?
This is also probably the case in a number of other major cities, especially where there is a large concentration of Veterans. Selling portions of the VA Health Care System to hospital corporations might please both ends of the political spectrum. The private corporations would expand their patient base, thus gaining economic gains based on their total patient base. Republicans would have “privatized” the VA Hospital System, and Democrats would gain a single-payer system. Single-payer does not mean single-provider.
VA patients could be covered under a separate health care program under Medicare. Call it, for instance ,“VetCare” with a separate schedule for co-payments, if any. Medicare beneficiaries seem to love their existing coverage–and do NOT wish it to be changed. y Wife and I surely don’t! And, Medicare participants can go to any doctor or health care facility that accepts Medicare (VetCare).
Veterans would certainly benefit from greater flexibility of provider choice and could go to one nearby, rather than have to drive across-town, or even long distances, to a VA facility. This might also alleviate some of the problems that currently detract from VA health care services, such as; the great influx of Senior Citizens from the Vietnam Era; more on-site psychiatric services to treat PTSD and other mental disorders of younger Vets; and, of course, the increased demand for OB/GYN services as more and more Women return from the War Zones.
There might still be an overall shortage of doctors, practicing in the required specialty fields, and who could provide health care to all Americans–both Veterans and otherwise. Many new doctors have huge student loan burdens, which causes them to pursue the big-money specialties and gravitate toward the larger cities. That’s why there might be a need for scholarship programs and/or student loan forgiveness schedules in return for a commitment to public health–or to practice in rural areas or small towns for a period of time.
The Government, health care industry, medical school deans, and the health care insurance industry jointly need to formulate a plan as to how to tackle this problem. I believe that the coverage standards of the Affordable Health Care Act are a definite improvement in minimum health care services, however, there still needs to be more transparency regarding the expenses. Having a difference of more than 100% for the same hospital procedure, in the same city, is unacceptable. That needs to be changed!
Now, I have never personally been involved in providing health care; but, I have been a patient in both VA and private facilities. So, my comments here are based on: business; organizational and, what I think are, common sense considerations. Just like any merger–although privatizing the VA health care system would have to be done in segments–there should be many benefits: combining of staffs; expansion of services available; eliminating administrative duplication; more patient flexibility; shorter wait-times and, of course, the cost savings.
NOTE: At the recommendation of several friends, I had several check-ups at a VA Clinic, perhaps eight years ago. I found the primary care doctor and nurse were excellent. The administrative nurse and receptionist, unfortunately, were quite authoritative–telling me, rather than listening to me. I felt like I was back in the Army again–going through Boot Camp! Everyone at the VA (and private hospitals too) needs to realize that their patients are the reason for the facility–and thus their jobs!
There are a number of categories as to which Vets can receive health care services. Those who have been in a war zone are assigned to a higher category than those who had not. Since I already had my employer-sponsored plan, however–I realized that the VA process might get quite complicated as more GIs returned from the Middle East. So, I stuck with my company health care plan; however, I can always go back to the VA, if I chose.