THE BLOG

Raise Your Hand If You Think Veterans Deserve First Class Medical Care

07/03/2014 10:01 pm 22:01:00 | Updated Sep 02, 2014

Everybody’s in, right?  So what’s first class medical care?  Maybe Bill Gates’s plan?   The President’s? Donald Trump’s? One of those should work for sure.

If we all agree that our vets deserve that level of care, is the next step how to pay for it?  Let’s put that on hold for a minute and back up a step.

Suppose funding was not an issue.  The sky’s the limit. Do we have a system in place that can deliver that level of care?  Not currently.  The VA’s been a hot topic in the news. There’s no need to revisit here the system’s catastrophic failure and disappointing performance on many levels.

Oh, but there’s hope: a new head of the VA.  If Robert McDonald is confirmed by the Senate, he’ll bring a level of business expertise and experience with customers that the VA hasn’t seen. It might be the change that’s needed.

If.

If he can restructure the VA.  Completely.  From top to bottom.  This is not a new idea.  Jack Jacobs, Medal of Honor Winner and retired U.S. Army Colonel, voiced this last month. In fact, his idea was even stronger: get rid of the VA. With the passage of the Sanders-McCain bill and its provision to build more hospitals, we might have moved beyond that, but there’s some weight to Jacobs’s statement that we should stop trying to fix a system that’s broken.

Right now the structure of the VA couldn’t be further from the corporate structure McDonald comes from, where performance and accountability come first. Where no one’s coffee break is more important than the customer and customers aren’t turned away or asked to wait for months.  People can actually get fired. Imagine it.

That’s hard-to-impossible to do in government service, isn’t it? But that’s the kind of cultural shift that has to happen at the VA.  Can anybody do that?  Can Robert McDonald? Let’s hope so.

But while we wait for the Senate to confirm McDonald’s nomination, let’s get better acquainted with the Sanders-McCain Veterans Bill and what’s happening on that front. One of the bill’s points is “Establish independent commissions on ways to improve the VA...”   I’d kind of like to know about those commissions, wouldn’t you?  Think you could ask your Congressional representative to look into it for us? For real change, we have to keep the spotlight on the issue. That’s our part in this, yours and mine.