The VA has three main problem areas — competition with private hospitals, underfunding and a bonus system.
The private hospital sector wants the VA shut down so that it can contract the work.
The VA has been underfunded for years. At one time any veteran could apply for care and be accepted. Currently this care is rationed and who gets care is dependent on disability cause and rating, veteran population, veteran’s age and veteran’s insurance. Misrepresentation of this rationing system can give the impression that the VA hospitals are underused when the underuse does not exist. Also underfunding has led to hospital conversion to clinics.
The VA bonus system tends to lower operating costs. At one time this was limited to benefit denial but now appears to have been expanded to other areas.
Not getting much news coverage are the various veteran organizations. These organizations consider themselves as successors to the Grand Army of the Republic and exist to help the veterans and their families. In fact every Memorial Day and Veterans Day holiday these organizations seek donations to help needy veterans. The veterans organizations also are a major VA care component, meaning they provide some care, entertainment and transportation.
To fix the VA problems the first step should be adequate funding. The second step should be adding the VA mission statement requirements to bonus and promotion basis. Moreover like any corporate takeover, changing the head will not save the corporation unless significant management personnel directives and staff changes occur.
WILLIAM H. MENTZER