11/3/15, "Trump shows real policy chops with great fix for ailing VA," Betsy McCaughey, NY Post
"A whopping 20 percent of Republican primary voters are military
veterans. No wonder GOP presidential candidates are making the
scandal-plagued Veterans Affairs Department a campaign issue.
And the man frequently tagged as lacking substance — Donald Trump--just came out with the best reform plan so far.
Under Trump's plan, vets of all ages who are eligible for VA care
could get treated at any civilian doctor’s office or hospital that takes
Medicare. No bureaucratic hoops, pre-approvals or wait lists.
Trump’s proposal leverages the close connection between Medicare and
Veterans Affairs-45 percent of VA users are already on Medicare.
Opponents are carping that Trump’s plan lacks details, but we don’t need
a 1,000-page bill. Trump’s proposal works. It also does an end-run
around the VA bureaucracy that has sabotaged every effort so far to
allow vets to go outside for care.
For 20 years, Veterans Affairs has failed to provide timely care to
sick vets. Congress has been alerted again and again that VA schedulers
falsified wait lists and even lied to vets, telling them they were in
line to be seen when they weren’t. After several vets died needlessly at
the Phoenix VA facility, Congress finally enacted reform last year. It
promised vets the option of civilian care.
Every vet gets a “choice card,” but it’s a cruel joke. The law erects so many hurdles that few vets can actually use it. Vets have to live more than 40 miles from a VA facility or have
waited more than 30 days to be eligible.
Then they have to get a letter
confirming eligibility from Veterans Affairs--good luck with that.
their civilian doctor has to call for pre-approval before treatment--fat chance getting that call answered.
After all that, treatment is
limited to 60 days. Like you can cure cancer in 60 days!
More than half of vets haven’t even heard about the choice program,
which is just what the VA bureaucracy wants. But count on Trump--the
master marketer--to get the word out about his plan if he’s elected
president. And to fire VA Secretary Robert McDonald, who is a mere
apologist for the system.
Competitors criticize Trump for not estimating the cost. But the
facts suggest his plan will be low-cost, because nearly half of VA users
are already on Medicare. Astoundingly, over 1 million of them have
Medicare Advantage, which means taxpayers are paying insurance companies
to care for them and then paying Veterans Affairs to care for them.
This nonsensical double payment sends 10 percent of the VA health budget
down the drain every year.
Overall, encouraging older vets to use Medicare instead by picking up
their out-of-pocket costs when they go to a civilian doctor is a
no-brainer, and it would cut VA wait lists in half.
That would allow
younger vets to see a VA doctor faster. But Trump also gives them access
to civilian doctors, if they prefer.
Vets needing procedures such as bypass surgery and angioplasty do
better at civilian hospitals that perform them in high volume. Medical
studies support Trump’s idea. (No kidding!)
Concerned Veterans for America lashed out at Trump’s plan for lacking
details. It proposes moving vets into private health plans with
subsidies to help pay the premiums. But the plans resemble ObamaCare,
meaning most vets could face large out-of-pocket costs.
That’s a nonstarter. Vets already earned their care. At the VA, they
can see a doctor for $15. Maybe Concerned Veterans was fast to criticize
Trump because one of their plan’s authors
is an adviser to another
Hillary Rodham Clinton says she’ll unveil a VA reform plan next
month. She’s already brushed aside evidence of VA corruption, denying
it’s widespread. Trump is the candidate best equipped so far with a real
alternative when she launches into a defense of the VA’s rotten status
"Betsy McCaughey is the author of “Beating ObamaCare” and a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research."
Trump's plan for Veterans:
"Veterans Administration Reforms That Will Make America Great Again, The Goals Of Donald J. Trump’s Veterans Plan"