I had the privilege of standing with Concerned Veterans for America this past Tuesday as we protested the outrageous delays in treatment that our veterans, young and old, are experiencing. How many of us non-Vets would wait 433 days to get a claim processed by our insurance company? How many would wait a year to get a treatment as routine as a knee replacement? None, of course–but our Veterans are being forced to do so by a “single-payer” system called the Veterans Administration.
I came to speak at the protest outside the Cleveland VA Hospital because I was aware of the delays and wanted to do what I could to help push Congress and the President to make the VA do its job. However, I didn’t know half the story until I started hearing from the other veterans about botched procedures, a total lack of doctors, most of whom are “borrowed” from other hospitals, and the Cleveland facility, which is supposed to serve all of NE Ohio, only having one part-time doctor for prostate issues at a time when thousands of veterans are needing such care.
Then it got worse. The Vets all talked about how the VA closed the facility in Brecksville, OH, which was right off the Ohio turnpike and very easy to access for Vets from all over. Why did they close the Brecksville facility? Not because that was best for the veterans, but for political reasons. They moved it downtown to University Circle in the heart of Cleveland, where it takes an hour to get there from within Cleveland itself, let alone from Youngstown or Akron or Toledo. And did I mention that the Director of the VA who made that deal was convicted on fraud and bribery charges?
This is what happens when there is no competition, no free market. This is what happens when bureaucrats decide on locations and treatment and services, based on what is good for them and the politicians who control their jobs, and not based on what is good for the patient. Those who think Obamacare is going to cut the cost of health care and improve treatment, talk to a veteran and see how that is working out. Take a trip to your regional VA facility and look at the money it wastes on fancy offices and sculptures and things that they want but which don’t do a thing for the patient. That is what is coming to all of us if we don’t make a stand right now and force the House of Representatives to defund Obamacare.
If today the VA is backed up by more than a year, how long will the wait be when WWII, Korean War, and Vietnam War veterans–not to mention the young soldiers who were wounded after the last decade of war–reach the peak ages when they are going to need the most care? The alternatives to waiting three or five years, if it comes to that, are shopping elsewhere (which they should not have to do, and which many cannot afford to do), or dying from years of missed treatment. The status quo is the national equivalent of leaving wounded soldiers to die on the battlefield; it is a cowardly act.
What is happening to our veterans is a national disgrace. Unfortunately, single-payer systems are ineffective and not easily fixed. Ohioans and readers of neighboring states who want real change should demand that our Congressmen create a voucher program that gets Vets out of the VA system so that they can go to the best private hospitals. I guarantee that this would cut costs and improve service.
Yet it’s not only Vets who need protection from a broken government health care system. If today’s bureaucracy proves incompetent or uninterested in following through for our veterans, how much farther short will it fall when Obamacare is fully implemented? Our veterans’ plight is but a shadow of what our spouses’ and children’s futures will look like under Obamacare.
Tom Zawistowski is the CEO of TRZ Communications, the Executive Director of the Portage County TEA Party, and the President of the We the People Convention. He is a featured contributor to Ohio Conservative Review.
Michael Hamilton contributed to this article.
All opinions expressed belong solely to their authors and may not be construed as the opinions of other writers or of OCR staff.
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