Jun 23, 2015

A Long Way to Go for a 21st Century VA

MODERN-VA

Over a year after America discovered the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) had a secret waitlist for veterans needing care and after President Obama said he was “madder than hell” about the scandal, a new report finds that the problem is even worse today.

According to the New York Times, there are now 50 percent more veterans on wait lists for a month or more than there was during the height of the scandal last year.

This news comes on the heels of reports that the VA had not reduced wait times at all this past year.

After the House passed a VA reform bill to improve access to care for our veterans and allow the VA to get rid of employees at the center of this scandal, the VA has slow walked reform. Few people, if any, were fired for allowing veterans to die while waiting for care, and little to nothing has been done to reduce wait times.

As Leader McCarthy outlined at the Concerned Veterans of America summit last February, these continual troubles stem from a fundamental problem of the VA being stuck in the past: 

“The VA system of the past was about bricks and mortars—the numbers of hospitals and clinics they can build. To me, that is wrong. It should be about the care of the veterans—the medical care. So that should mean, from my perspective and principle, it may not be in your hospital. I want the care for the veteran first.”

So now, a year after the scandal when the VA has been appropriated more funding and America has called for greater accountability, why are veterans not receiving the medical care they need? Why do we continue to let veterans suffer with substandard socialized care that never gets fixed instead of allowing them access to a free market with competition, lower prices, and higher quality care?

As Leader McCarthy wrote last year in the USA Today,

“The VA is steeped in a culture of ambivalence coupled with a lack of accountability, and no amount of funding can fix those problems. Washington’s traditional response of throwing money at the problem won’t change the fact that people in the VA hid problems and silenced internal critiques all while administrators received bonuses when they shouldn’t have. Only thorough modernization and a change in culture can fix the VA.”