Over the past week I have receive many emails regarding my recent articles on Obamacare and that there may be a silver lining to come out of government's planned takeover of the country's healthcare system. I tried to answer many of those emails saying that I would discuss the possible silver lining this weekend, and that the first two articles were needed to set-the stage.
Veterans know all too well the problems with government-run healthcare and many have languished for years in the VA Hospital system, waited years for answers for disability ratings, been subjected to lost and misplaced files, and have had to bear review board decisions, then appeals, denials and more appeals just to get the government to honor the commitment made to those of us who signed on the dotted line when we enlisted.
John Q. Public has no idea what is in store for them with the Affordable Care Act, which any Veteran could have told them that "if the government is involved, there's no such thing as affordable". Internal audits by government oversight committees and inspectors general, have pinpointed waste, mismanagement, and countless areas of fiscal malfeasance by VA management and in some cases, misdiagnosis and haphazard care for the patients.
You see, the public was sold another bill of goods by the bureaucrats in Washington, which is why I had to spend two articles just telling people about the problems the Veterans have had…and remember there are only 25 million of us out here…in getting the care we earned in service to our country and were promised by everyone up and down the chain of command. If I didn't itemize case after case of the neglected care of our brothers and sisters in arms, the delays in getting disability ratings, delays in getting the acknowledgement that specific illnesses were attributed to military service (i.e. Agent Orange, depleted uranium, and exposure to environmental concerns such a contaminated water), they wouldn't get the picture.
We have an electorate that re-elected an administration that by all counts should have been run out-of-town on a rail, having run the country into $16 trillion in debt on the way to trillions more just on the horizon (without Obamacare), the highest number of eligible workers not working (about 90 million has been thrown around but probably somewhere between 60-70 million) despite the hocus-pocus way the administration keeps it's records (not counting those who have dropped out of looking for work and those working part-time) and with the help of a complicit media which keeps telling us the employment numbers are getting better.
Hey, the TOTAL number of those not working at the height of the economic implosion in 2008-2009 remains at about that level today. Prior to the 2012 election, Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric said the unemployment number dropping below 8% the week before the election could not be right. He was castigated by loud-mouth liberals, Democrats and the mainstream media, but has been vindicated by confessions of census bureau employees who were told to falsify records and make-up numbers. We call that cooking the books! Mr. Welch went on to claim, “these Chicago guys will do anything … can’t debate so change numbers.”
And we have a government so mired in corruption and lies that the President's level of "trustworthiness" has fallen to an all time low of about 30%, yet we still have those undeterred supporters clamoring for Obamacare and promises of something for nothing, lower costs for those who currently have insurance but which is being cancelled, a savings average of $2500 for in annual premiums, better insurance coverage than the policies 80% of Americans were satisfied with (and paying for, by the way), and inclusion of 30 million people who have not had and maybe never have had insurance.
If we add up all the government promises and Obama's guarantee that those with insurance can keep their insurance, their hospitals, and doctors – PERIOD, and add-in the words of the entire Democrat Party that the country was headed for the promised land of healthcare in which no one would be denied and one which The Messiah (aka Obama) has delivered to the lowly class of citizens over which they reign (his "signature legislative legacy"), we must be in heaven.
We Veterans, including active military personnel, total about 25 million. We are far wiser than the average citizen. We have walked this road before. We have been talking about the Veteran Administration's version of government run healthcare, but few ever hear us. The politicians put up with us near election time, and the so-called "We support the troops" citizens seem to care less. Since the 1930's when the federal government, by an act of Congress created the Veterans Administration combining three different Federal agencies: the Veterans Bureau, the Bureau of Pensions of the Interior Department, and the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, our now-deceased brothers and sisters in arms sang from the same hymnal about the failures of the VA system.
The Veterans Administration Act was to "consolidate and coordinate Government activities affecting war veterans", and for 2014 is asking for a budget request of $152.7 billion. This includes $66.5 billion in discretionary resources and $86.1 billion in mandatory funding. Note: The discretionary budget request represents an increase of $2.7 billion, or 4.3 percent, over the 2013 enacted level. As with every government bureaucracy, they receive continually more money every year due to zero-base budgeting and even when the government gets in a "cut-back mode" around election time, there is never a real "budget cut". Government's version of a budget cut is that the department simply gets less of a budget increase!
So let's lay all the cards on the table for everyone to see. Maybe even the diehard Obamacare enthusiasts will be able to digest the facts in the blank air space between their ears. A government which cannot run a healthcare system efficiently for 25 million enrollees is way out of its league in trying to run a healthcare system for 315 million citizens…PERIOD!
The US healthcare system has been the standard bearer for the entire world, funding more than 30,000 clinical trials through the NIH. We have more MRI's, PET scans, DaVinci robot operating systems, Proton Beam accelerators, Comprehensive Cancer Research Centers, and more of just about everything per capita, than any other country in the world. It is an interwoven system of highly technical and specialized fields that is far more complex than any non-medical person could ever imagine. It encompasses one-sixth of the entire U.S. economy. Those outside medical circles claim it is too costly, shows little compassion for those with pre-existing conditions, is wasteful (in the many redundant diagnostic tests that are done), is fraught with Medicare/Medicaid fraud, and needs to be under the control of the government. Many even think it should be a non-profit endeavor!
In the first place, the entire government is filled with waste, fraud and abuse, and filled with redundant, never-ending programs wherein the administrations take lavish vacations to exotic locations courtesy of the taxpayers. I've been alive for almost 70 years and since I can remember there has been a constant refrain from "watchdog groups", oversight committees, and inspectors general, that government fraud, waste, and abuse accounts for at least 20% of the entire federal budget…it never changes. So expecting the government to oversee itself is like going to the bathroom in the ocean expecting to raise the tide!
My previous articles outlined just a few of the problems with the Veterans Healthcare System, from the lost and missing records, to many medical errors which are really probably no more than what is seen in many countries of the world, though well below the success rate which is available though the world's best medical facilities across America. Our hospital system in general however, number about 5000, and are the destination of the world's leaders when they seek specialized care.
I needed to point out many of those problems because today the government, which is ill-equipped to run a system for 25 million patients, now wants to run a system for 315 million. The system they devised (Obamacare) will be so problem plagued that the $100 million spent on the website is only the tip of the iceberg. When you consider the number of website hits on EBay, Facebook and others, and the number of transactions that occur daily on most of these sites, we have a government website which can't even handle 50,000 inquiries and still doesn't provide the backend accounting and insurance premium payment system.
Originally touted as a system that would cost the American taxpayer about $900 billion a year, it has since been re-evaluated by the CBO to probably run as high as $2.7 billion. This is in addition to the monumental premium costs for those who do not qualify for some government assistance, higher deductibles, expected long waiting lines for care, limited choice of doctors, limited specialists, a fraction of hospitals available in most networks, and far fewer treatment protocols. With non-elected personnel running the governing bodies of the program, they will be isolated from public redress, much like the appeals board personnel overseeing treatments and coverage for Veterans.
The point to remember, above all, Obamacare…the Affordable Healthcare Act…by whatever name you want to place on this mess, is only promising insurance COVERAGE to our citizenry. Some will get it for FREE, others will be subsidized by the youth of America (aged 21-35), if they even elect to participate, and those who were happy and had coverage they were paying for at rates far less than what is apparently available under the government plans. 80% of those in this last category were happy with their coverage and deductibles, and now face the unknown with initial results being almost unaffordable by most.
COVERAGE IS NOT CARE. We Veterans are covered by our Veterans programs and know this to be a fact that just because you have coverage does not mean you have care or that you will get the quality of care you think you deserve. The public is in for a BIG SURPRISE.
Phineas Taylor Barnum (better known as PT Barnum) was an American showman, businessman, prankster and entertainer, remembered for promoting celebrated hoaxes and for founding the circus that became the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. He said many times that "Every crowd has a silver lining".
For years people have coined that phrase from PT Barnum to read, "Every cloud has a silver lining". The Silver Lining is that we have been granted a preview of Obamacare by the VA Hospital System. Obamacare will be an extension and the ugly red-headed step child of the Veterans Healthcare System. We have seen our destiny in government run healthcare, and it is not pretty. We still have time to avoid what has been termed a "train wreck" by doctors, hospitals, and people who understand the limitations of government programs. Maybe we can stem the tide with the 2014 elections. God save America!