As Robert A. McDonald prepares for confirmation hearings as successor to Eric K. Shinseki, he must also prepare for wrenching stories like this:
Typical of the outrages he will confront is the story of the Vietnam veteran who tried two years ago to make an appointment at a Veterans Hospital in Bedford, Mass. Last month, he got a letter telling him he could finally see a doctor. This is one appointment that won’t burden the VA. Doug Chase is dead. He died waiting.
In 2008, in his run for the White House, Barack Obama promised to “make the VA a leader of national health care reform, so veterans get the best care possible.” As a senator, along with the 99 other senators, Mr. Obama was briefed about the unacceptably long waits.
Now, both the Senate and House—in near record time—have passed legislation that instead of fixing the problem will do little more than cost taxpayers more—a lot more. Yet both bills allow the same bureaucrats who have been responsible for the current tragic mess to decide when and if veterans can go outside the VA system.
One big problem is that it the VA system has become O’Care for veterans. Of the 5.6 million veterans who received care, over 3 million were treated for problems that had nothing to do with their time in service to our country. Here, Cato’s senior fellow Michael Tanner asks, “Why are we spending so much and getting so little? In part, it’s the general corruption, inefficiency, and waste to be expected from government. And if Obamacare, Medicare, and Medicaid should have taught us anything by now, it’s that our government isn’t very good at running health-care programs.”