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Government has role to play, but not in all areas of health care

Since his election in 2008, President Obama has vowed to “make the VA a leader of national health-care reform so that veterans get the best care possible.”
In fact, this has been noted throughout his presidency, emphasizing his commitment in at least five speeches since that time.
Yet, we now find that the Veterans Affairs health-care delivery system is a nightmare, showing us the long-term reality of government-run health care.
Rather than a leader, VA health care is an example of the government’s inability to run a complex program as efficiently and effectively as private industry, adjusting quickly to demands placed on the system.
Likewise, Medicare has “rules” that show inefficiency for its “customers” in that health-care program as well.
For example, you can have a cortisone shot in one knee per month or drive to a different office for a shot in the other knee in the same month, but not the same day.
Its cost overruns, waste and fraud are masked with more tax, more money.
Established in 1811, medical services were needed for veterans returning from war. These injuries required special long-term care.
The VA health-care system was created to meet these special needs because at that time, this level of health services was sparse.
But today, the capacity, skills and facilities in the private sector hospitals have grown and are capable of meeting or exceeding those within the VA system.
In fact, to its credit, the VA is recommending patient care be “outsourced” to private sector hospitals and clinics.
I submit this should be the new model for VA care and health care in general. Giving the veteran a “diamond credit card” for health care, useable at the clinic, doctor or hospital of his/her choice, will resolve many of the issues almost immediately.
Further, it will probably save some hospitals that are in financial difficulty and considering closing.
This will leave the VA with the responsibility to do what it does best — care for our vets’ and their families’ needs outside of health-care delivery, such as locating housing, transitioning back into the workforce, job training, oversight, ensuring proper care is received, long-term care, etc.
Most important, it would almost instantly eliminate long lines and delayed care, and give the veteran access to his/her choice of options independent of government controls.
Non-veteran health care should, as President Obama implied in 2008, be modeled after this idea as well.
We should replace the large umbrella government program that now overshadows, controls and neuters the health insurance industry with regulations.
We should be able to select the policy and coverages we need and want, from the doctors in whom we are confident and who are free from the control of government panels describing the medical procedures and medications allowed.
The government should be protecting the safety of care and stopping fraud, and leave the rest to individuals, businesses, unions, etc. to manage.
We should pay the insurance companies or doctors directly and not through the IRS.
Yes, the VA is the model for health care for the nation. We can manage our own health care.