The VA mess, or is it?

dryfliedryflie Senior MemberPosts: 1,442 Senior Member
Lately I'm spent a great deal of time at a local (Boston) VA hospital, Been visiting off and on now for 3-4 years. My brother and I are both 60's era vets, he's a bit younger. I always had good company insurance and elected Medicare when I retired so do not use the system. My brother however never had much in the way of a career actually going many many years without insurance. When RomneyCare forced his hand he signed on with the VA, he could afford nothing else. My brother has been a long time smoker and heavy drinker, nothing I could say or do to make any impact on that. So 3-4 years ago he goes in with breathing problems, they discover lung cancer and admit him for an operation. He has his right lung removed and is told all looks good, quit smoking, watch the drinking and things might turn out alright. He pays no attention, returns to smoking and steady drinking. He's been in and out now for a couple of years, always getting a bit worse. Now it's his heart, CHF at a very advanced stage. I was visiting last week and spoke to his very nice young doctor. She tells me he hasn't taken the medication they prescribed so the condition has reached the tipping point, there's little chance he can survive, probably has about a year to live.

My impression of the VA based on my involvement has been nothing but positive. Always good care, excellent facilities, no complaints from me at all.

NOT saying the recent issues in AZ aren't real and serious, just saying they might not be systemic.
“The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.” - John Kenneth Galbraith

Replies

  • FishTXFishTX Super Moderator Posts: 8,023 Senior Member
    I read a Think Progress article today, that said the VA medical care has about a 93% approval rating. Not sure how accurate that is, but your observations support that. In the article, it says some in the GOP are revisiting the idea of privatizing part or all of the VA. To me, that will ruin it. The people won't have a voice in keeping up the good care. And privatizing will probably lead to people trying to make a profit and when that happens, profits will most likely be put ahead of health care. Y'all deserve better.

    Sorry to hear about your brother's situation. I wish him the best.
    "We have to find someone who can not only fly this plane, but who didn't have fish for dinner."

    Crooow:This music would work better with women in bikinis shaking all over the place. I guess that's true of any music really.
  • George KGeorge K Super Moderator Posts: 9,959 Senior Member
    My experience with the VA is mixed. Although I use Medicare and private insurance and do not wish to take services away from needy vets, I began trying to enroll last year "just in case", although I intend using few of their services. (We are very lucky to live in an area with no shortage of very good doctors. Most of the ones I see are well credentialed and experienced faculty at Johns Hopkins.)

    For six months the staff at the Lebanon, PA VA Hospital told me I wasn't in a high enough classification (priority rating) for to be enrolled, and furthermore was automatically rejected for failing to provide full financial disclosure information. This despite my having qualifications (service in Viet Nam and a Purple Heart) that put me in the third highest classification, with a specific exemption from financial reporting.

    After several months of back and forth and my request to file a formal complaint they suddenly discovered this past January that I should be enrolled immediately. I had a first appointment in February at the VA clinic nearest to me and was very pleased with the experience, from reception, to the nurses and the primary care doc I was assigned. The VA clinic in York, PA itself is a first rate modern facility, nicer than most private practices I have seen.

    The other side of the story is that the expensive drugs I take are not on the formulary available to primary care docs and appointments with specialists - who can prescribe more expensive drugs - can take a long time to get. Back in February I booked the first available one to see a nutritionist. It's in mid-June, a four month wait.

    At this point the only other services I anticipate using are getting a pair of glasses and making appointments with two specialists to see if I can get three costly scripts covered.

    The 10% military discount my VA card secures at Lowes, Home Depot and other stores may be the biggest benefit I ever will receive, and that's fine with me. What is not fine with me is that other vets, without good insurance and financially strapped, probably also are getting jerked around and delayed for months on end when trying to enroll and obtain care.
    Keep your stinkin' government hands off my Medicare.
  • fishingcomicfishingcomic Senior Member Posts: 24,072 Senior Member
    When I was stationed at LA AFS our medical facility was the VA Hospital in Long Beach, at that time it was one of the best hospitals I had ever been in.

    David Frum made an interesting point about the fact that they were not prepared for dealing with some of the issues they are currently dealing with, brain injuries and such. So it is going to require some major institutional changes geared to new challenges.
    'I've spoken of the Shining City all my political life. …In my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That's how I saw it, and see it still.'" Ronald Reagan
  • creekguycreekguy Senior Member Posts: 3,905 Senior Member
    I wonder how many people recognize the real cause of the VA's problems: having to treat a huge number of Iraq veterans on a limited budget.
  • dryfliedryflie Senior Member Posts: 1,442 Senior Member
    creekguy wrote: »
    I wonder how many people recognize the real cause of the VA's problems: having to treat a huge number of Iraq veterans on a limited budget.

    On my last visit to the Boston area VA hospital a week ago Wed I was struck by the incredible lack of any parking space at the facility. This is a big place but every single spot in 4-5 lots was taken, I had to wait for someone to leave. Inside the waiting area was packed as well. The place was jumping. Looked to me like every room was taken.

    No question the VA population has grown over the last few years, with the Vietnam era vets getting much older and then the Iraq and Afghan Vets added in the stress on the system must be extreme. However there does seem to have been some seriously f'd up bureaucratic mess in several hospitals. This BS about faking wait times to look good has got to cost some people their jobs. There does seem to be a push for numbers over quality care in some places.
    “The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.” - John Kenneth Galbraith
  • jbillyjbilly Senior Member Posts: 5,249 Senior Member
    dryflie wrote: »
    On my last visit to the Boston area VA hospital a week ago Wed I was struck by the incredible lack of any parking space at the facility. This is a big place but every single spot in 4-5 lots was taken, I had to wait for someone to leave. Inside the waiting area was packed as well. The place was jumping. Looked to me like every room was taken.

    No question the VA population has grown over the last few years, with the Vietnam era vets getting much older and then the Iraq and Afghan Vets added in the stress on the system must be extreme. However there does seem to have been some seriously f'd up bureaucratic mess in several hospitals. This BS about faking wait times to look good has got to cost some people their jobs. There does seem to be a push for numbers over quality care in some places.

    And if anything we will be needing more an more VA hospitals and Drs as the Vietnam generation gets older and so do the current vets. The problem of lack of services is going to get a hell of a lot worse before it gets better.
  • fishingcomicfishingcomic Senior Member Posts: 24,072 Senior Member
    And they just voted against funding that would have built more facilities.
    'I've spoken of the Shining City all my political life. …In my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That's how I saw it, and see it still.'" Ronald Reagan
  • fishingcomicfishingcomic Senior Member Posts: 24,072 Senior Member
    creekguy wrote: »
    I wonder how many people recognize the real cause of the VA's problems: having to treat a huge number of Iraq veterans on a limited budget.

    We have nearly doubled the budget. The problem is even with more money, they do not appear to be equipped. There was an episode of Vice where they were talking about PTSD and how they are not getting counseling, only anti-depressants and anti-psychotics. Some of them are getting some very powerful opiates that are not even recommended for their disorders.
    'I've spoken of the Shining City all my political life. …In my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That's how I saw it, and see it still.'" Ronald Reagan

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