Loading, Please Wait...
Clean Machine
Apr. 03, 2017 #97-92 a2z
PDF
TXT
aA

One of the persistent problems of the current administration, and our current society, has been our inability to do enough for the nation's wounded veterans. We are, at base, a big-hearted nation, and we are definitely more appreciative of our soldiers than we were during the Vietnam War years.

Yet does it not make you cringe, just a little, that we must resort to television appeals to raise enough money for Wounded Warriors? Should we not ensure, as a matter of human decency, that all veterans get the care they deserve?

That comes to mind while reading a recent story. Despite the public scandal, some 20,000 medical appointments concerning veterans took more than a month in Illinois from September to February. The stated goal of the Veterans Administration is to see all patients within 30 days, according to a recent story by The Associated Press.

Many of the problems relate to the Edward Hines Jr. Veterans Administration Hospital near Chicago. Hours have expanded there and the hospital is in the midst of adding 168 new positions, the story said. The national government is spending $24 million to improve conditions at Hines.

More staff and money is, of course, welcome. But the real key to unraveling faster treatment may be to expand the idea of letting all veterans get their care, if they want, from local physicians. If there is competition for those patients, the speed and quality of service may rise. Likewise, for those veterans who live far away from any facility, the ability to see their own doctor in their own town is a kindness. Some of that is being done now, but not enough.

If you Google up wait times for health systems, you will find they are often a concern in societies where health care is nationalized under a single system. In Britain, 60 percent of patients wait four or more weeks to see a specialist. In this country, only 23 percent wait as long. A story by the Canadian Broadcast Corporation noted that 27 percent of emergency room patients in Canada wait four hours or more.

Of course, both the VA and the other system will point out that the most serious cases move to the head of the line. They do not knowingly place people's lives in jeopardy.

Our veterans deserve the best care they can get. If they choose a large government facility, they ought to have that right. But the real key may lie in more local clinics and in having more physicians and care available in every town. More choice. More care. No waiting.

1 of 1