Mt. Vernon Register-News

Opinion

May 31, 2014

Fix VA by improving what it does best

If anybody had been inclined to dismiss the scandal at the Department of Veterans Affairs as overblown, they’ll have to think again. Failures in its health-care system are severe and systemic, according to an authoritative new report. Blame for this will need to be apportioned, but far more important is to fix what’s gone wrong.

The agency’s inspector general reported Thursday that veterans waited 115 days on average for their first primary-care appointment at a VA health center in Phoenix, not the 24 days staff first claimed. The problem goes beyond this one facility. The report concluded that inappropriate scheduling practices are “systemic” throughout the agency.

This information, together with the distressing details of veterans who died or suffered while waiting for treatment, has increased pressure on the agency’s head, Eric Shinseki, to resign or be fired. By itself, that won’t put things right.

What will? One approach, advocated by Sen. John McCain and others, is to give veterans “the right to choose where and when they get their medical care.” House Speaker John Boehner has called for privatizing the VA, and House Veterans Affairs Chairman Jeff Miller wants the agency to pay for veterans to get private care if they wait more than 30 days for VA care.

Veterans groups counter that the VA is uniquely suited to deal with their health needs, such as trauma-related injuries, prosthetics and mental health. They argue the influx of new veterans following the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan means the agency’s health-care services need more money, and they warn that diverting resources would put that care at risk.

The best way forward is to combine the two approaches: Strengthen the VA’s ability to do what it’s good at and widen veterans’ access to services that don’t demand its expertise.

Text Only
Opinion
  • Keeping up with the Comcast call-center fiasco I’ve been intending for a while to write about the Comcast call-center fiasco, but it’s hard to keep up: the story just gets weirder and weirder. Following the now-viral recording of the telephone call in which a customer service representative essen

    August 21, 2014

  • System needed for choosing House In the original conception of our Constitution, the House of Representatives was to be the branch of government that best reflected the will of the people. House members cannot serve without being elected — vacancies are not filled by appointees — an

    August 21, 2014

  • Dems plead for more money I’ve been getting a lot of email from Democratic fundraisers lately. They seem very worried about November’s elections.First came the highly publicized “Impeachment Red Alert” campaign, in which the Democratic congressional committee warned that Repu

    August 21, 2014

  • Why Obama shouldn't go to Ferguson On Monday, ABC’s Ann Compton asked President Barack Obama whether he would visit Ferguson, Missouri, amid the continued unrest. Obama didn’t give a firm answer, but he did suggest it’s probably not a good idea.“When they’re conducting an investigatio

    August 20, 2014

  • Food stamps' $80B secret spending program Imagine a government program that has exploded in size, is the subject of bitter partisan haggling and spends almost $80 billion a year in secret.No, not the National Security Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency or the Department of Homeland Secu

    August 20, 2014

  • Vouchers provide greater choice I was chatting the other day with a fellow who, along with his wife, homeschool his children. We joked about the stereotype: Moms in denim skirts.But then he expounded on the benefits his youngsters have derived from being taught at home: a customize

    August 20, 2014

  • A rare experience Alexandra Petri’s editorial, “What exactly are we seeing in Ferguson” is well written and did something which has increasingly become a rare experience for me. Her article caused me to think!Petri makes the case for media coverage of American events,

    August 19, 2014

  • Naive? Simple? I will admit outright that I may be a little naïve and tend to look at things through a simple prism. I received a suggestion for a column with an accompanying article written by By Reed Abelson and Eric Lichtblau concerning the failure of our govern

    August 19, 2014

  • Don't pass 'coup clause' with a security waiver It is a sad reality that national security waivers often render human rights laws moot, inviting the government to overuse the loophole to accommodate immediate needs. The “coup clause,” which mandates foreign aid suspension to countries after a mili

    August 19, 2014

  • Clinton could end up like Gore Although we’re all still sort of pretending that it remains to be seen whether Hillary Clinton will run for president in 2016, she recently gave the most definitive confirmation she has to date of her impending candidacy. No, she didn’t say the words

    August 16, 2014

Twitter Updates
Facebook
Stocks