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.