Viewpoints: It's past time to move on VA's problems; administration should report new health law numbers

The New York Times: Troubles With Veterans' Health Care
When America sends men and women to fight, it owes them an enduring debt, starting with competent and timely health care and disability benefits when they leave active duty. President Obama expressed outrage on Wednesday at recent charges of wrongdoing in the Department of Veterans Affairs' health care system. ... But expressing outrage is hardly enough for a president who, as a candidate in 2008, criticized the agency and vowed to improve care and address backlogs. It is past time for a more visible personal commitment to right these wrongs as well as strong White House support for legislation that would make it possible for top agency officials to fire those responsible for wrongdoing (5/21). 

The Washington Post: A Rash Of Firings Will Not Solve The Problems At The VAThe men and women who have served their country in uniform deserve better than delay or denial of the medical care they need and have earned. So it is crucial to get to the bottom of allegations of misconduct at the nation's veterans hospitals. America's veterans also deserve not to be treated as so many pawns in election-year gamesmanship -; but that sadly is proving to be the case in Congress's increasingly hyperbolic response (5/21). 

The Washington Post: Eric Shinseki Is Still The Right Person To Lead Veterans Affairs
After Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki appeared before a Senate committee last week, one television commentator indicated that when Shinseki said he was "mad as hell" about problems within the VA hospital system, he didn't actually look all that mad. True, he didn't. But those of us who have known and served with Shinseki realize that this lack of outward emotion should not be read as a lack of passion. I first met Shinseki 20 years ago, when he was the Army's chief of training. He had a low-key personality, but he was a passionate advocate for obtaining the facilities, equipment and modern concepts that would keep our Army the best in the world. I was impressed (M. Thomas Davis, 5/21).

The Washington Post: Obama Is President Passive Over The Veterans Affairs Scandal
It doesn't inspire great confidence that President Obama, on the day he finally decided to comment about excessive wait times for veterans' medical appointments, showed up late to read his statement. The White House briefing room is only about 100 feet from the Oval Office, but Obama arrived 13 minutes after the scheduled time for his remarks, the first since the day the scandal broke late last month with a report that 40 veterans had died in Phoenix while waiting to see doctors (Dana Milbank, 5/21).

Politico: The VA's Socialist Paradise
The VA is an island of socialism in American health care. It generally provides adequate care -; to a limited universe of people and for only certain conditions -; but has been plagued by scandal for decades. It is perhaps the worst bureaucracy in the federal government. As with all such single-payer-type systems, the cost of the notionally free health care is in the rationing, in this case the wait times that have had desperately ill vets hung out to dry for months (Rich Lowry, 5/21). 

On other health issues -

Bloomberg: Where Did The Obamacare Data Go?
The most transparent administration in history has decided to discontinue the monthly Affordable Care Act enrollment reports now that open enrollment is closed. ... But while the official open enrollment period is closed, that doesn't mean that activity on the health-insurance exchanges has shut down. People who have experienced a "qualifying life event" -- getting a job, having a baby or moving to another state, among others -- are still eligible to enroll in an exchange policy. Meanwhile, other people will be exiting the system -- they will get a job that has benefits, marry someone with benefits, or just stop making their payments and go without insurance. The Barack Obama administration should by now be getting fairly accurate estimates of how many of the 8 million enrollees they reported are actually in the system. It is disappointing in the extreme that they would stop reporting these figures just as more accurate data is becoming available (Megan McArdle, 5/21).

The Washington Post's Post Partisan: The Insiders: More Obamacare Enrollees Doesn't Mean More Success For The Democrats
The problems with Obamacare have moved off the front page recently, which is exactly what the Democrats have wanted to happen. They want to celebrate the "victory" of Obamacare by championing the alleged 8 million sign-ups, answering few questions and moving on. But the political infection that is Obamacare is thriving in the body politic (Ed Rogers, 5/21). 

The Wall Street Journal: The Bureaucrat Sitting On Your Doctor's Shoulder
The bond of trust between patient and physician has always been the essential ingredient in medicine, assuring that the patient receives individual attention and the best possible medical care. Yet often lost in the seemingly endless debate over the Affordable Care Act is how the health-care bureaucracy, with its rigid procedures and regulations, undermines trust and degrades care. In my pediatric ophthalmology practice, I have experienced firsthand how government limits a doctor's options and threatens the traditional doctor-patient bond (Zane F. Pollard, 5/21). 

Virginian-Pilot: Millions Of Reasons To Expand Medicaid 
[Indiana Republican Gov. Mike Pence's Medicaid proposal] is remarkably similar to the "Marketplace Virginia" proposal embedded in the Virginia Senate's budget. House Republicans in Virginia continue to resist a proposition that a growing number of Republicans and Republican-backed groups can no longer justify opposing; the financial implications, and the absurdity of sanctioning a federal tax hike while depriving residents of a benefit, argue for approval of a state budget that includes federal funding for greater health insurance coverage (5/22).

The New York Times: Depressed, But Not Ashamed
Most of our closest friends didn't know that we struggled with depression. It just wasn't something we discussed with our high school classmates. We found that we both had taken Prozac only when one of us caught a glimpse of a prescription bottle in a suitcase during a journalism conference last November. For the first time, we openly discussed our feelings and our use of antidepressants with someone who could relate. We took a risk sharing our experiences with depression, but in our honesty, we found a support system. We knew we had to take the idea further (Madeline Halpert and Eva Rosenfeld, 5/21).

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis article was reprinted from 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.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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