Will The New Administration Help or Handicap Care for Veterans?

Over on Breitbart [the alt-right’s mis-information site] this morning, they’re announcing how the incoming president-elect and his favorite pillagers [healthcare industry CEOs] met on Wednesday to begin a “serious reform of the Department of Veterans Affairs.”  He apparently put an option on the table to implement a system where Veterans would be able to choose either VA healthcare or, all private.  Since it was a private meeting, not open to the press or any others, we’ll not know what options were actually offered up and discussed at length.

Yes, we could do a better job at some VA facilities across this nation (e.g., Phoenix, etc.), but there are a large number of VA facilities that never seem to hit the news cycle that ARE providing superlative service to their Veteran populations. Throwing out the good because of a few bad apples  and promoting privatization of healthcare for veterans across our country would lead to the abdication of our collective responsibility and a foot in the door to allowing healthcare CEOs to make an unbridled profit off the healthcare needs of our Veterans — using our taxpayer dollars.

My husband I are both Veterans.  We live in a small rural town in northern Nevada which is 180 miles from the nearest urban center.  We have a satellite VA clinic with a visiting VA doctor and the ability for tele-medicine.  And yes, we have a small contingency of private “family” doctors and a small rural hospital in our community.  We have a few visiting specialists who rotate through our parts [a couple of Orthopedists, a Gastroenterolgist, and a Surgeon or two], but none of the other specialties.  But, we certainly don’t have any doctors who rotate through who specialize in prosthetics for those of our local veteran population who’ve lost limbs either in battle or through the ravages of exposures to chemicals like Agent Orange.  Nearest care for those challenges, whether VA or private, are in Reno, NV, a 2.5 hour drive down the road at 75 mph.

If this next administration is successful in privatizating healthcare for our veterans, it could prove to be highly problematic. Unless strict lines of communication between private doctors and the VA are strictly maintained, an immense amount of medical  information will be lost.

I personally know too many Veterans never registered with the VA in the first place, thinking, “I didn’t want to take a slot for some other Veteran who’s truly in need.” I can’t tally the number of times I’ve heard a fellow Veteran utter those words.  I’m sorry, but the day they signed on the bottom line to literally put their life on the line for this country, a slot at the VA should have be created for them and any of their impacted offspring.

Because Veterans like them didn’t register with the VA, a lot of the information about the effects of Agent Orange has already been lost.  Their “private” doctor likely never asked if they were a Veteran and what they might have been exposed to while on active duty. When they developed diseases that have been related to “Agent Orange” over the course of time by the VA, none of their health information was reported to the VA.  When they had children who were born without hands, arms, legs, etc., Veterans who never enrolled in the VA System, ended up footing the bill through whatever health care they were able to afford (if they were even able to provide insurance coverage because of “pre-existing” conditions declared by private insurers). And — all of the health-related information for them as well as their affected children was and has never been reported to or recognized by the VA.

If this administration is successful in privatizing healthcare for Veterans, where are we going to get care for ourselves and our affected loved ones?  We all don’t live in Urban centers with full and ready access to the full scope of available healthcare options.  As this Veteran sees it, if we allow the new Republican-only, unchecked administration to begin dismantling the VA healthcare system, quality of care for our Vets will diminish over time:

  • If the use of mandatory information systems to collect health information about our Vets aren’t required of “private” providers, no one will be able to “connect the dots” to prove disease-exposure relationships.
  • We would begin the ultimate destruction of our collective commons and allow corporate entities to claim as their profit, increasing percentages of our tax dollars for diminishing care for our Veterans.
  • We would allow those in power to obscure health information about those they literally sent to war and exposed to various chemicals thus, abdicating any obligation of the government that sent them to war and shifting that burden to each individual Veteran to find and fund on their own, any healthcare needs they may have.
  • Quality of and opportunities for care will differ greatly between Veterans who reside in Urban areas where opportunities abound from those available to Veterans residing in Rural areas, creating tremendous inequities in opportunity for healthcare.

We should all watch “who” the President-Elect proposes to put in charge of our care [and their motives] and “who” he appoints to any “advisory board” that would propose reforms.  It’s up to us to be vigilant going forward to assure this next Commander-in-Chief truly has our Veterans’ interests at heart, and not his own or his best buddies’.