Tags: Congressional | Hearings | VA

It's Time Veterans Had Freedom of Choice

Friday, 17 April 2015 03:38 PM Current | Bio | Archive

I think I’ve figured out why checked baggage sometimes arrives at the airport luggage carousel with drool stains on the outside. Earlier this week Alaska Flight 448 was forced to return to Sea–Tac airport when first–class passengers were startled by yells and pounding coming from beneath the floor of their cabin.

The more affluent first–class travelers assumed that what you get for flying steerage–class and asked the flight attendant for more champagne. While passengers who’d been following the TV mini–series “The Strain” began screaming about blood worms and reached for the nearest crucifix.

The pilot elected to return to the airport where authorities discovered the commotion was due to a baggage handler who had made himself a cozy nook in the forward cargo hold and had gone to sleep.

Better him than the pilot, but it was still an inconvenience for passengers and cost the airline money it would rather not spend on unscheduled airport returns. It also cost the Menzies Aviation baggage bouncer his job.

Too bad we can’t say the same for public employees sleeping on the job. Rather than being fired, they awake rested and refreshed and ready to cost the taxpayer even more.

The somnambulant bureaucrats at the Veteran’s Administration are on track to build the most expensive hospital in the history of medicine. At a price tag approaching $1.7 billion veterans will have the distinct privilege of being on the waiting list for treatment at a facility that cost even more than the Cowboys’ Jerry Bowl.

According to the Washington Post the VA has been trying to build a new hospital in Aurora, Colo. since the late 1990s. Originally it was supposed to encompass 10 buildings, three parking garages, a spinal–cord injury research and treatment center and a 30–bed nursing home and rehab center. But almost immediately costs began to rise.

Replacing the sundial–based queue management system with something based on the Baskin–Robbins model started the cost curve rising. Then the nitpickers really pounced when there was an oversight that increased the cost of doors from $100 to $1,400 each.

That could’ve happened to anyone who didn’t bother to measure doors to see if equipment would fit. (Rumor is the VA project manager has had his refrigerator on the front porch for the past decade.)

There have also been questions raised regarding the $100 million plus cost of the hospital’s atrium featuring towering glass windows that will allow the vets to work on their tan while they wait, assuming the project is finished. Congress is currently deciding if they want to pound another $830 million taxpayer dollars into the Aurora rathole.

In Orlando, Fla. the VA demonstrated a different kind of incompetence. There the agency started the construction process before a final location had been finalized. Three site moves later the hospital cost has jumped $350 million and the completion date has been delayed three years.

The Post quotes a spokesman for the Associated General Contractors of America who says the group no longer wants the VA to oversee any construction. Brain Turmail says, “It’s a real vote of no confidence.”

Personally I wouldn’t trust the VA to oversee the construction of a sandwich, must less a medical facility.

These instances are just the latest in a long line of outrages to come out of Congressional hearings. Cost overruns and incompetence are followed by calls for reform or oversight or increased accountability. But nothing ever changes. Politicians are too afraid to state the obvious; instead they throw more money at an agency impervious to reform.

The fact is if school choice is the preferred conservative cure for the failure of school systems to educate, then medical choice for veterans is the cure for the VA’s myriad failures. The federal government doesn’t need to be in the hospital business.

Privatize veteran’s medical care by selling all the VA hospitals to private buyers. Then give vets a federal credit card good for medical care and let them decide where to get treatment.

In one fell swoop waiting for an appointment disappears. If one facility is full, the vet can call another doctor or hospital. Vets are no longer forced to travel hours to get to the nearest VA hospital. They can use their cards locally and the bill is sent to Uncle Sam.
The savings to the taxpayer will be enormous.

There’s a one–time inflow of dollars from the sale of VA facilities, construction bills are eliminated, payroll spending is slashed, the size of the federal government is reduced while the power of competition improves accountability and care for vets.

If Uncle Sam is serious about keeping his promise to vets, then get serious about eliminating the Veteran’s Administration.

Michael R. Shannon is a commentator, researcher (for the League of American Voters), and an award-winning political and advertising consultant with nationwide and international experience. He is author of "Conservative Christian’s Guidebook for Living in Secular Times (Now with added humor!)." Read more of Michael Shannon's reports — Go Here Now.

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Privatize veteran’s medical care by selling all the VA hospitals to private buyers. Then give vets a federal credit card good for medical care and let them decide where to get treatment.
Congressional, Hearings, VA
Friday, 17 April 2015 03:38 PM
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