NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Veterans Deserve Better Health Care

January 17, 2017

Senior Fellow John R. Graham writes at NCPA's Health blog:

President-elect Trump has nominated David Shulkin, MD, to be the next Secretary of Veterans Affairs. In 2015, Doctor Shulkin was nominated by President Obama to be Under Secretary of Health in the VA (the position he currently holds). It is an interesting choice, not only because Mr. Trump is calling on an Obama appointee to take the top job in the VA, but also because it recognizes veterans' health care is the major pain point in the department.

Can veterans hope for better reform than just more tinkering with the current bureaucracy? Or will they have the opportunity to liberate themselves from it? No other public servants, active or retired, are forced to go to government-owned hospitals for care. Why veterans?

Public disgust with the veterans' health system came to the fore in 2014 amid reports that at least 40 veterans had died while waiting for care. Subsequent research found that the problem was systemic: On average, veterans were having to wait three months just to see a primary-care physician, while other Americans typically waited three days, less if they were sick.

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