Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Obama Administration Must Improve the VA Hospitals

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Obama Administration Must Improve the VA Hospitals

Article excerpt

PORTSTEWART, Northern Ireland -- President Obama on Wednesday replayed a familiar scenario when dealing with scandal, in this case delays for treatment, deaths, alleged cover-ups and other acts of malfeasance at Veterans Administration hospitals in the United States. First express outrage, next announce an investigation, and then say he won't comment until the results of the investigation are in, promising people will be held "accountable," if they violated the law. Good luck with that.

Meanwhile, critics are using the VA scandal to indict Obamacare. They believe what is occurring at VA hospitals is a preview of coming destruction should the U.S. government move into a full- scale takeover of the entire health care system.

Thes critics need only look across the Atlantic at the United Kingdom's crumbling National Health Service as a glaring example of the dysfunction when government runs health care. For years, NHS horror stories have abounded, reported dutifully by the British press. These include neglect of elderly patients, long waiting times to see a doctor and longer waits for necessary surgery, which the government in some cases denies based on cost, age of patient and unusually high numbers of deaths at some hospitals.

The VA could learn from what occurred at Hinchingbrooke hospital in Cambridgeshire, England. As reported by the Daily Mail, as recently as two years ago Hinchingbrooke had a deficit of $16.8 million a year. It ranked 102nd in the country in admission waiting time; charged $67 to park, with fines for overstaying, and in what sounds like the punch line to a joke, took one week to change a light bulb.

Today, the hospital is due to break even. A surplus is expected next year. Hinchingbrooke has zoomed up in ranking to number 20 in the country in waiting time. Parking now costs $4. …

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