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home : opinion : columns February 6, 2016


5/25/2014 6:00:00 AM
Kingman Column: Big government equals big mistakes

Rich Thurlow
Editor


Here it is, Memorial Day Weekend, and what better time to think about absent comrades - the soldiers, sailors and Marines who survived combat but didn't live long enough to make that appointment with the V.A.

Where to start?

How about with the Associated Press, which reported on May 18 that the president was "madder than hell" about reports of treatment delays at veterans' hospitals across the country, without bothering to mention the president has known about the problems plaguing the V.A. since at least 2008.

In the same brief story, the AP also noted that a top official for veterans' health care, resigned. Reading the story, one could assume this is the start of the figurative bureaucratic bloodbath. But Dr. Robert Petzel, the top official being referred to, was already planning to retire this year, and the White House announced May 1 that the president would nominate Jeffrey Murawsky as his successor.

The Daily Beast, meanwhile, offers this news from the Albuquerque, N.M., V.A. hospital:

"There are eight physicians in the cardiology department. But at any given time, only three are working in the clinic, where they see fewer than two patients per day, so on average there are only 36 veterans seen per week. That means the entire eight-person department sees as many patients in a week as a single private practice cardiologist sees in two days, according to the doctor."

At that V.A. hospital, a veteran with a heart condition requested to see a doctor on March 19. The Daily Beast reports "the patient was finally seen only days ago, on May 16, when (he was) admitted to the hospital for decompensated heart failure."

The Albuquerque situation, as well as situations in Phoenix and every other VA medical care facility, prove again that big government just doesn't work. The eight VA cardiologists are getting paid the same wage, no matter how many patients they see.

I'd rather see a private heart doctor who has time for 18 patients a day, because a good specialist gets plenty of free word-of-mouth advertising from living patients.

What to do? First, take away the option of V.A. care for veterans like me (three years, no combat, good conduct discharge). Next, sell or shut down all V.A. facilities, lay off all the current employees and issue all eligible veterans their Vacard, with benefits only for those who served long enough to draw a pension or those who have a service-related disability.

Someone else can work out the details on co-pays and other technical stuff. The important thing is to take care of the veterans who have earned it.

The most disheartening aspect of the V.A. mess is that this is where health care is headed for everyone in the U.S., thanks to the misnamed Affordable Care Act. And for more on that, let's go back one more time to The Associated Press reporting on the latest way ObamaCare is going to increase costs for many Americans:

"The Obama administration has given the go-ahead for a new cost-control strategy called 'reference pricing.' It lets insurers and employers put a dollar limit on what health plans pay for some expensive procedures, such as knee and hip replacements.

"Some experts worry that patients could be surprised with big medical bills they must pay themselves, undercutting financial protections in the new health care law."

Such "reference pricing" treats everything beyond an arbitrary limit as out-of-network care, even if it's not, which means billing will be higher with no help from your insurance company. And it won't count toward your out-of-pocket limit, according to the Patriot Post, which notes: Has there ever been a bigger fraud perpetrated on the American people than ObamaCare?

The answer: No.

I'll sign off with a personal note, something I've only touched on briefly in this space over the last eight years - back when the tumor in my bride's head made itself known.

That tumor has become aggressive to the point where chemotherapy and radiation are no longer something to think about but are, rather, things that now must be done.

The next 45 or so days are critical. Please remember Roxanne in your prayers, if you do that kind of thing.

Through all this the private health insurance company we contracted with has done exactly what it promised these last eight years. The out-of-pocket chemo drugs set us back over $400 last week (a small price if they work). The price without insurance - close to $14,000.

And the premiums haven't really changed all that much over the years, rising the most drastically this last year when Obamacare kicked in.

Thank God the government "allowed" my wife to keep her policy. It's great to live in a free country.


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Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, May 31, 2014
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

“For Bob Moore libs to say it was Republicans not giving them money is a complete fallacy.”

Nope and your posting such a falsehood will never make it true. Examples-2003 The Criminal cuts $200 million from the VA budget to give the rich more tax breaks. Last month the GOP’ers blocked a VA benefit bill, “A motion to cut off debate on the veterans bill and allow the bill to move to a floor vote fell short by four votes, with all but two Republicans voting along party lines.” And of course there are the numerous others cuts the GOP’ers have pulled off to screw our veterans.

“The Iraq war, while passing the first vote to go, libs demanded a second vote and that was fine with Bush.”

What part of The Criminal lied to Congress in order to get that vote don’t you understand? Even that pathetic cowardly traitor Snowden admitted The Criminal lied to Congress and the American people in order to start a war against a country that posed no threat to us.




Posted: Friday, May 30, 2014
Article comment by: Linda Athens

The VA hard to believe story is that, unlike most government entities, at the end of each year, who spend every last penny on anything they can find so as to get more the next year, they do not.

Each year, they have millions and billions left over for the next year.

So WHAT is the problem? They have the money and more needed to take care of veterans. For Bob Moore libs to say it was Republicans not giving them money is a complete fallacy.

Even giving unbelievable and unmerited bonuses, they still have money left over, last year I believe it was $800 million.

All we can do is look at the fact, anything given to a bureaucracy to run, they cannot run like the private sector does.

Shinseki just fell on the sword as we knew he would. The Iraq war, while passing the first vote to go, libs demanded a second vote and that was fine with Bush. Many more Dems jumped on board including Hillary Clinton.

But it was Shinseki who came forward and said it was a wrong move. He stood alone then, he stands alone now. He is a war hero and it is sad to see how obama uses person after person, hanging on til the last minute to dump as much of his ineptness on them as he can before he throws them under the bus.

Jay Carney just left also. I guess the lies finally got to him.


Posted: Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

“Obamacare and the VA are interchangeable.”

Nope, wrong.

“Want to know what obamacare will look like? Take a good hard look at the VA.”

No, that also incorrect. The VA is operated by the government (like your own insurance) and the ACA makes use of insurance companies (a BIG mistake demanded by the GOP’ers). There is no similarity.

“…people defend this God awful mess obama has gotten us in.”

It is not a “god awful mess”BR>
”There isn't a thing he touches that doesn't go wrong.”

A few Obama pluses. 1. Stock market is now over 17,000, up from when Bush left it at 6,000 2. Exports are up 27% 3. Domestic Oil Production is up 25% and imports down 25% 4. 97% of all USDA REAP Green initiative programs are a success
5. Jobless rate is down from 15% when Bush left it to less than 7% 6. Osama bin Laden 7. Winding down the failed Afghanistan and Iraq pointless wars Bush started.




Posted: Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Article comment by: Linda Athens

Obamacare and the VA are interchangeable. Both run by big government, neither one working and should go to the private sector.

Want to know what obamacare will look like? Take a good hard look at the VA.

Exactly when was it so many Americans gave up common sense and reason, their own rights, things that already worked and decided they could do nothing for themselves and had to have Big Daddy do it all for them?

And yet, day in and day out, people defend this God awful mess obama has gotten us in.

There isn't a thing he touches that doesn't go wrong. Debacle after debacle after debacle.

What is it today? Oh yeah, the outing. And then, the fact Mrs obama taking over the cafeteria food as if she has been elected to something has cost so much money, schools are taking money from other places to just fund the cafeteria food. And kids hate it so much, much of the food just gets thrown away.

Two scandals for the price of one.


Posted: Tuesday, May 27, 2014
Article comment by: Amaryllis Smith

From age 17-24 I had five(5) major surgeries, all covered by BC/BS, spent more times than those in the hospital before 30, all covered by BC/BS. Never threatened of being dropped, increasing rates due to them or any negative feedback from insurance company. Why not?
Probably because of work group health insurance care protection which is the best way for everyone to be able to go.

VA problems are a mirror image of what's to come with the OBCARE debacle. You can't put hope, faith and trust in big government and believe it's going to do better than the private sector, isn't going to happen no matter how many times people say it will.


Posted: Monday, May 26, 2014
Article comment by: Amaryllis McElyea Smith

Pres. Obama gave speeches VA problems 08-21-2007, 08-17-2009, 11-11-2011. He and his transition team were told of problems with back log in 2008. Yes he did run on the issue of the VA and knew all this time.

Posted: Sunday, May 25, 2014
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

To compare the ACA with the disaster taking place at the VA is nothing more than an attempt to mislead the uninformed.

Health care through the VA is totally government operated, dependent on taxpayer funding as allowed by Congress. When Congress repeatedly refuses to fund the operations of the VA the recipients of health care will suffer. Many of us warned for years that the GOP’ers were not going to fund care for our veterans they sent to war based on lies. We knew that was what they were going to do, because they have a long history of ignoring veteran’s needs.

Health care through the ACA is dependent on the insurance industry – a mistake by anyone’s standards, based on the insurance industry’s long history of mistreating policy holders. You do not go to a government doctor under the ACA you got to a doctor selected by your insurance carrier. Single payer was the way to go, but the GOP’ers insisted on the individual mandate and the complained when Obama capitulated to their demand.

Actual facts outweigh the Obama Derangement Syndrome every time.


Posted: Sunday, May 25, 2014
Article comment by: Linda Athens

You and Roxanne will both be in our daily prayers for healing, peace and strength.

And wisdom and knowledge for the Dr's.

Obama's I'm mad as hell and just learned about this problem (said about every problem) on the news is growing very old.

He knew. He campaigned on making the VA better. He's a liar.

And he's not a leader. He is lazy, as noted by fellow Senators when he was a Senator, only liking to get in front of everyone and make, soaring, lofty speeches, then completely forget what he just said, leave the doing to others, then blame them when it went awry.

In fact, it was said he never even showed up at committees he was required to be at - only when he was center stage w/cameras on him, chin always tilted slightly upwards, Hitler like.

Obamacare is certainly one huge fraud perpetrated on many but obama's election is the biggest fraud of all for he himself is a fraud. God help us to ever recover from the unbelievable damage.





Posted: Sunday, May 25, 2014
Article comment by: jim harper

In the first half of the editorial you seem to advocate putting veterans on private health plans. Like Obamacare.

In the second half of the editorial you blast O-care.
Which is it?


Posted: Sunday, May 25, 2014
Article comment by: Just A Thought

Rich once again you have printed opinions that may be mistaken for fact to the many elderly here in the town of Kingman. You have once again provided a disservice to this community. Your paper and Kingman deserve better.

Posted: Sunday, May 25, 2014
Article comment by: trained observer

The VA hospitals were a problem in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s etc. Nice that someone is paying attention now but it is too late for many others. Jumping on the bandwagon to complain about them now does nothing as this is something that should have been fixed long ago.
If you really want smaller government, keep the Republican party out of peoples private lives.


Posted: Sunday, May 25, 2014
Article comment by: Rick O'Shea

Obama promised to fix the VA in 2008 and now it is in pre-Bush lows, guess the "Liar" strikes again.



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