Viewpoints: Who is responsible for mentally-ill shooters?; privatizing VA floated to fix problems

Published on May 29, 2014 at 9:05 AM · No Comments

The New York Times: Why Can't Doctors Identify Killers?
Mass killers like Elliot Rodger teach society all the wrong lessons about the connection between violence, mental illness and guns -; and what we should do about it. One of the biggest misconceptions, pushed by our commentators and politicians, is that we can prevent these tragedies if we improve our mental health care system. ... In every state, we should prevent individuals with a known history of serious psychiatric illness or substance abuse, both of which predict increased risk of violence, from owning or purchasing guns. (Dr. Richard A. Friedman, 5/27).

The New York Times: As Congress Sleeps, More People Die
In the days since the Isla Vista shooting, some lawmakers have talked about finding new ways to keep guns out of the hands of people with a history of mental illness. The proposals would barely reduce gun violence and could be effective only if a universal background check system were in place, but they are still worth pursuing. The best ideas along these lines require a better definition of how severe a mental illness needs to be before it prevents someone from possessing a gun, and how to share information about illness with a state or federal background system. Currently, federal law prohibits gun ownership by felons or anyone who has been involuntarily committed to a mental health institution, a high bar that obviously misses thousands of people (5/27).

USA Today: Help Keep Guns From Madmen: Our View
Like other deranged killers, many of them young men with psychosexual problems, Rodger passed background checks and bought his guns legally. ... In Santa Barbara, there was a huge missed opportunity after the shooter's parents saw their son's disturbing videos on YouTube and alerted authorities. Sheriff's deputies went to the young man's apartment -; which held his guns, his ammunition and a detailed plan for his killing spree -; but he easily convinced them he was no threat to himself or others (5/27). 

The Wall Street Journal: Doctors' War Stories From VA Hospitals
In my experience, the best thing that a patient in the VA system could hope for was that the services he needed were unavailable. When that is the case, the VA outsources their care to doctors in the community, where their problems are promptly addressed. But these patients still need to return to the VA system for other services and get back on a long waiting list. ... The men and women who have served in our armed forces should be supplied with a federally issued insurance card allowing them to receive their care in the community where it can be delivered better and more efficiently (Dr. Hal Scherz, 5/27).

The Wall Street Journal: Avoiding The Wrong Lessons From The VA And HealthCare.gov Problems 
Problems with the launch of HealthCare.gov and with veterans hospitals allegedly concealing long waits for care feed a narrative that government doesn't work. But many government programs, including Medicare and Social Security, work well. And there are as many examples of corporate bungling–GM and its ignition switches, BP in the Gulf–as there are of government bungling. ... Ultimately, workarounds and corporate-sounding titles are short-term fixes. We are also likely to hear calls soon to privatize VA health care. The real challenge is to make the government work better (Drew Altman, 5/27).

Bloomberg: Why Obama Can't Fix The VA 
As it happens, I believe the administration's supporters when they say that this scandal was a long time in the making, and that no one president can be entirely to blame. Fundamentally, this points to the difficulty of reforming any institution, and especially a government agency. Yet it also points to one of the cardinal weaknesses of Obama's presidency: his prolonged hubris about how much a really smart, caring president could change the way government operates (Megan McArdle, 5/27).

Bloomberg: The VA Needs A Good Marine 
Obama called Shinseki in, but kept him on, even though members of both parties and the American Legion say it is time for him to go. A Vietnam vet whose right foot was partially blown off, Shinseki also showed bravery when he defied President George W. Bush by calling out his proposed troop deployment to Iraq as way too low. He's had no such public moment in six years. It's a parody of crisis management that in a flat voice he said he was mad as hell. Let's find someone who is. As they might say in Hollywood, "Get me a Jim Webb" (Margaret Carlson, 5/27).

The Wall Street Journal: A Cautious Step Toward Republican Reform
The conservative manifesto "Room to Grow," released May 22 by the advocacy group YG Network-;the YG stands for Young Guns-;offers a glimpse of a similar effort among today's Republicans. The document's scope is limited-;deliberately, I assume. ... Public-policy analyst James Capretta offers the best conservative proposal so far to replace the Affordable Care Act. But while he stresses the law's unpopularity, he avoids a salient fact: 58% of Americans want their politicians to improve the ACA, ... A stance that rallies the faithful in the midterms may well repel the majority in a national election (Willam A. Galston, 5/27).

The Washington Post: Would Michelle Nunn And Alison Lundergan Grimes Have Voted For Obamacare? Why They'll Never Tell.
Democrats Alison Lundergan Grimes and Michelle Nunn have a lot in common. That's especially true when it comes to Obamacare. Neither U.S. Senate candidate will say whether she would have voted for the federal health-care law in the U.S. Senate. Why? The political realities of their races are such that they pretty much have no other choice (Sean Sullivan, 5/27). 

Forbes: A Labor Union Prepares To Strike, As Obamacare Ups Health Insurance Costs By 5.0-12.5%
Labor unions have, of course, been among President Obama's most reliable supporters. Unions' support was critical to the passage of Obamacare in 2010. But unions are continuing to learn, to their apparent surprise, that their members will bear many of the costs of the new health law. Now we learn that some laborers are preparing to strike, if they are forced to absorb the higher health-insurance costs that the Affordable Care Act requires (Avik Roy, 5/27).


http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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