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Frequently asked Questions and Comments on a Government Veteran Health Card!

Reader comments in black.  My answers are in red.
 
COMMENTS:

A conversation with Larry (founder and editor of www.VAWatchdog.org):

1.   Your list of "mights" is really not good reasoning.  You might walk out in the street and get hit by a truck.  So?  You don't go walking? 

Huh?!?  What are you talking about?

2.  No one will support a card that pays 100% at any doctor, no matter what the doctor charges.  It will be, just like TRICARE, tied to Medicare.  And, then try to find a doctor.  We have rural vets in SW Washington where I live that have been dropped by their TRICARE plans and now have to travel more than a hundred miles to get to a hospital. 

This has nothing to do with Tricare.  If retired veterans want to use that system of health care...they are welcome to it, but I doubt that they will want to when they see what the VA could offer.  I can not speak for Senator McCain or Senator Obama, but...my plan would pay for health care for every honorably discharged veteran 100 percent!  No deductible.  No Co-pay.  No out of pocket costs, free prescriptions and free dental!

If Congress and the President can not buy on to this plan...the deal is off.  We will just continue to waste the taxpayers money like we always have.  Congress and the President must buy onto this plan 100 percent or we just do business a usual.  Same old status quo!

3.  TRICARE (and a privatized VA would also) pays at the Medicare rate.  Doctors and hospitals are dropping out of the program because they can't break even.  Rural retirees are driving long distances to find anyone who will take their TRICARE card.

You keep bringing Tricare into this and I don't know why?  The only veterans that qualify for Tricare are veterans with 20 years of Active Duty.  The VA has nothing to do with Tricare.  If you choose the VA as your primary health insurance, the VA will try to collect from Tricare if you have 20 years or more of Active Duty.  Otherwise, the VA does not care about Tricare!  Are you only interested in veterans with 20 years of Active Duty service or are you interested in all veterans? 

Furthermore, veterans with 20 years of Active Duty service have the option to be covered under Tricare Prime.  Yes there is a cost for Tricare Prime and this cost would no longer be necessary if a veteran chose the VA as their primary insurance.  I am talking about every honorably discharged veteran (every single one of them) being covered for healthcare 100 percent!  What are you talking about? 

If they can not pay 100 percent of all health care costs with the money that would be saved by closing the doors to VA Hospitals and Clinics, you are right!  I would be against it too and I would rather stay with the same old system!  As bad as it is.  Have you tried to get emergency care at a VA Clinic lately?   

4.  Even at the Medicare reimbursement rate, it is still 25% more expensive than direct VA healthcare.

100 percent covered, Brothers and Sisters.  If they (Congress and the President) can not cover us at 100 percent with the savings resulting from the sale of VA Hospitals and Clinics to the private sector, my offer is off the table and we are back to square one.  We are back to business as usual!

Why are you bringing Medicare into this?  Medicare has nothing to do with VA medical benefits.  Social Security and the VA did not coordinate at all on my disability benefits...did they on yours?  They are two separate organizations spending the taxpayers dollars at alarming rates.  If you want to talk about Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid...leave it for a separate conversation at a different time!

5.  What is MY solution?  Just like that of every other healthcare.org...rural clinics...telehealth...and travel for the big ticket items.

So basically you are for no change?  I don't think our economy will support the present system without change.  I think we can come up with a better solution.  We won wars together...this is a minor problem compared to a war.

Questions:
(My answers to the following questions are in blue)
 

1.  Privatize?  You mean like they did to retirees with TRICARE...who were promised free healthcare for life and now pay through the nose for HMO care, if they can get it? 

I have friends and retirees on Tricare Prime now.  When I was Active Duty, I had to pay for Tricare Prime.  It was low-cost...but yes, I did have to pay for it.  Again...you are complicating this issue with issues that do not effect most veterans.  Most veterans do not have 20 years of Active Duty and, therefore, do not qualify for Tricare.  Again, I am talking about covering all honorably discharged veterans 100 percent!  What a great recruiting benefit for today's young troops! 

I am for giving Veterans a Government Health card that would pay 100 percent of all health care with the doctor, hospital and pharmasists of your choice. This would be paid for by the money that would be saved from not having to pay VA Health Care personnel and not having to pay utilities and maintenance on "outdated" VA facilities.  These VA facilities would be sold to the private sector.

As it stands now, the VA is not making plans to stay the same!  They are making plans to change.  The idea that I heard (and that is already happening around the Country) is that the VA is looking to lease their buildings to the private sector.  In exchange, they are looking for the private sector to build the VA new clinics and hospitals.  Plans call for 75 year leases to the private sector.  Do you really think that is good planning?

2.  This is what you want? 
 

YES.  I can not afford to drive to Omaha and I do not want to live in Omaha.  There are thousands of Veterans in Nebraska that do not want to drive to Omaha or move to Omaha.  No, this is not just what I want.  There are alot of people that I have talked to that agree with me.
 
I talked to Senator Nelson's staff about seeing what they could do to raise mileage re-imbursement for veterans.  Right now...it is way too low!  Yes...they gave us a little raise in mileage re-imbursement, but it is still too low and no matter how much they pay...the can not help the veteran in McCook, Nebraska !

A conversation with a civilian:

3.  How does all this get paid for?

It gets paid for with the money we save in VA staff, maintenance of buildings and man hours doing paperwork.  It cuts out the red tape.  Republicans and Democrats should love it (saving tax dollars), while it taking care of Veterans.

The sale of VA owned medical equipment, Hospitals and Clinics to the private sector should also bring money into the VA to hire staff on backed up claims for disability (currently over 400,000 files) and to hire staff to coordinate payment to the private sector. 

How will doctors in the private sector react if legislation is enacted requiring them to treat vets?

Well, I should hope that they would react positively!  I would think they would be honored to treat our brave young men and women!  Why wouldn't they?  They know they will be paid.  It will be guaranteed by the VA, our people  and our government.  IF we can not trust them our government...I suggest we take up our constitutional right to bear arms and have another revolution!  Who can we trust if we can not trust a government that is supposed to be by the people and for the people ?

What will be the reimbursement procedure for the doctor/dentist/hospital?

I am not the sharpest tool in the shed, but, my guess is this:  the VA is going to have to re-organize in a way that will make claims seemless and automatic for the veteran.  I think the best way to do this would be to make the Veteran Health Card a Discover Card.  We could run up the bill, pay it in a lump sum and get all the Discover Card credits (rewards points) for the veterans!  Veterans could take free vacations with the help of the Discover people!  Establish a federal veteran Discover Card account and collect interest and rewards points!  That is what private citizens do!  Get a free blender for gods sake!

What if some vets prefer VA facilities?

I will not deny that there is a certain camaraderie that will be missed from attending the same hospital as other veterans, but, this can be replaced by the social networks that are already in place for veterans.  For example:  the DAV, VFW, the American Legion and others.  The reality is that the VA does not want veterans hanging around.  I have seen many people chased off the facility in Lincoln, NE because they did not have a scheduled appointment.  I have seen veterans chased off because they just wanted to walk their dog in peace!

Are VA facilities more vet friendly?

Simple short answer:  No!  In fact...the private sector appreciates veterans more than the VA.  Many real veterans work in the private sector.  They are members of the National Guare and the Reserve on weekends!

Is the VA better equiped to handle the many and various problems of veteran?

Again, simple answer...NO!  The VA is not even equiped to handle a step throat without sending the veteran miles from his home!  The VA has no magical wonds!  They VA will never be able to handle the veteran with any kind of problem (mental, physical or spiritual) in McCook, Nebraska or any other remote site! 

Who will oversee the private sector from accounting to quality control?

I am not calling for the VA to shut down.  I am advocating the sale of VA medical assets!  People already hired within the VA would oversee government contracts for veterans seeking healthcare in the private sector.  If more people are needed to oversee these consults or contracts...there should be plenty of money left over from the sale of VA medical assets and savings from not having to maintain these VA medical assets. 

Will doctors have to pay for yet more malpractice insurance?

One of the benefits of being a VA doctor (contractor) is not having to worry about patients suing you.  Why would this change?  There are almost no Full-Time VA doctors.  The VA jobs are easy Part-Time jobs for them.  VA doctors come in...prescribe some drugs and go home with complete peace of mind.  No lawsuits coming...no consequence to pay.  Why would a private sector doctor require more malpractice insurance?  Veterans are no different than any one else.  The only difference is that they showed more courage (than the average citizen) when their country called them to duty! 

If insurance companies require doctors who treat veterans to carry more malpractice insurance, those insurance companies should be shut down or required to pay more taxes!  If insurance companies do not want to cover our heroes...let's say good-bye to those companies!  Period!  End of story!

What about Dental Care?

Covered, 100 percent or the deal is off!

What about prescriptions?

Covered, 100 percent for every honorable discharged veteran or the deal for the American taxpayer is off!

What about home healthcare for the veteran?

What about it?  This would remain unchanged.  Veterans are currently receiving home health care through the VA from the private sector...why would this change!  The American people should continue this service to our most disabled veterans!

What about PTSD?

PTSD is not unique to the veteran community.  Therefore, it can be treated by the private sector.  As a matter of fact, if you complain of PTSD, chances are you will be referred to the private sector if you are a veteran.  The VA, at this time, will probably refer you to a civilian program.

What about drug and alcohol treatment?

Drug and alcohol are prevalent in the private sector too.  If you drank over going to war...chances are you will drink over just about anything.  Drug and alcohol treatment can be and is provided by the private sector.  Once again...covered 100 percent by your VA plastic card.

Compliments:

It looks great – it is very ambitious in all its goals – and great ideas. - Lucy Anan, Washington, DC

Conclusions:

No, I do not have all the answers...that is why smarter men and women than myself get paid to figure out the details.  I believe we can make an idea like this happen!  I believe that we can make it become a reality and that everyone can win!  The taxpayer saves money and the veteran has access to "world class" healthcare.  "World class" healthcare is not located at the VA and no amount of money that we spend will make it that way.  "World class" healthcare is located in the private sector and if a veteran comes in and says everything is paid 100 percent by the VA with the backing of the United States government and its people...guess what...I think our veterans will finally recieve "WORLD CLASS!"