You can tell David Brooks of the New York Times was never in the military. In an opinion piece, he claimed that the Obama administration “has been remarkably scandal-free.” I’m curious about what Mr. Brooks was comparing it to (and drinking), but anyone with a memory can dredge up a huge number of scandals over the last seven years. Solyndra, Fast and Furious, Benghazi, and the list goes on, but the continuing outrage of the Veteran’s Affairs (VA) health system – both in treatment and administration – has been the scandal that just won’t go away.
The actions this administration has taken to repair the problem have done nothing to fix it, but have made it easier to punish the whistle blowers that are willing to report malfeasance. Administrators who commit fraud are not only allowed to continue, they are rewarded. Waiting lists for services are getting longer and no one is trying to hide the fact that the system is broken. Not damaged but broken.
Now, when the bottom is in sight and there is so little left to lose, is the time to fix the system. The idea of merging VA hospitals and military hospitals isn’t a new idea, but Congress seriously considering the idea is revolutionary. For government, anyway.
The Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center in Chicago has just completed a five-year trial to see if it was possible to merge VA and military hospitals. The program, overseen by both the Department of Defense and the VA, has been successful.
The results have placed Lovell in the top five of ‘VA hospitals in overall wait times’ and patient satisfaction ratings were excellent. If this system works, and it appears that it does, Congress should expand on the program and create more Health Care Centers like Lovell.
“One in three of my staff wear a uniform,” said Steve Holt, director of the Health Care Center, “There’s a realization of how they relate when they see those sailors that makes them more loyal, more appreciative and more willing to speak up and say ‘you know if you did it this way, you’d do it better.’”
Currently, at Lovell, 1,000 military members are working with 2,000 civilians from the VA to treat both veterans and active duty service men, women and their families. Although Lovell is not the only facility of this nature in the United States, it is the largest. In 2014, Lovell treated 25,000 veterans, 4,000 active duty service members and 10,000 of their family members, plus the facility oversaw the medical needs of 50,000 Navy recruits.
The facility works. It is expensive, but it works. Starting funding for Lovell combined the funding for building separate VA and DoD facilities. However, last year, Lovell Health Center returned $12 million and reduced annual appropriations by the same amount.
At a time when the government wants to throw money at a problem in hopes that it goes away, this project – successfully merging VA and military hospitals – appears to be where they should be throwing their money.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.