The VA scandal, and the ones beyond

By Inge De Becker, M.D.
Star Tribune (Minneapolis), May 31, 2014

True, the VA has waiting lists, real and fake. We spend fortunes to send youngsters to war, yet underfund their care when they come home. They suffer for no good reason.

That is unacceptable.

Here’s what else is unacceptable. Even with the Affordable Care Act, 30 million U.S. people will remain uninsured. No one keeps their waiting lists, but each year tens of thousands will die because they lack adequate access to medical care. Nearly half of the states refuse to expand Medicaid, effectively condemning more than 7,000 uninsured each year to preventable deaths. Medical bills remain the leading cause of bankruptcy. We don’t have enough primary care physicians, both inside and outside the VA.

Even the best programs could be better, and doctoring waiting lists must stop, but patient surveys still make the VA the highest-rated health care program in the country. Let’s face it. The VA is a public, single-payer health care program. The day the United States and Minnesota choose an adequately funded, public single-payer system, everyone will have access to timely care, and everyone will be protected from financial disaster in time of illness.

Now that is acceptable.

Dr. Inge De Becker resides in St. Paul.