On Memorial Day, besides celebrating the unofficial start of Summer vacation, Americans are supposed to remember the ultimate sacrifice made by the men and women that served in the nation’s armed services. What is often overlooked is the sacrifice made by those who served their country, survived, and were fortunate to make it back home to what is increasingly an ungrateful Republican Party. Republicans, by the way, that are Hell-bent and duty-bound to Israel to send more Americans to fight and die in the Middle East according to a twisted ideology that there is never a time America should be at peace.
When George W. Bush committed crimes to take America into an unnecessary war of aggression against a Muslim nation at Israel’s behest, any opposition to putting America’s brave soldiers in harm’s way was condemned as “not supporting the troops.” What has been an increasing revelation since the start of the Iraq War was that Republican support for the troops comes to a screeching halt the second service men and women are mustered out of the military. Since Barack Obama has been in office, Republicans have predictably blocked each and every Democratic attempt to increase funding for Veteran’s services whether it is better access to healthcare or providing assistance to find living-wage jobs.
In the 2012 general election, Republican presidential candidate Willard Romney floated an idea favored by the Koch brothers of giving America’s Veterans a limited dollar amount coupon to get healthcare privately they received for free through the Veterans Administration. Now, another Republican, Jeb Bush, is the first GOP presidential candidate thus far to propose that the best way to show appreciation to America’s Veterans is the Koch brothers’ plan to privatize the VA and issue a set dollar-amount coupon to be redeemed at private hospitals, private doctors’ offices, or health insurance carriers.
Bush said, “I know it has a pejorative for some, but I’m all in on the voucher thing … empowering people with the equivalent of a voucher that gives you the same economic benefit of receiving care inside of a clinic or a hospital.” Like all Republicans, Jeb Bush is a rank liar and obviously indebted to serving the interests of the Koch brothers. This is not Bush’s first foray into the coupon-care proposition for Veterans, one that began back in February at the direction of the Koch-funded group, Concerned Veterans for America.
The Koch group began seriously pushing its Republican lackeys to create a “premium-support private insurance option” for Veterans healthcare services when drastically underfunded VA hospital could not provide timely services to Veterans. The privatization scam amounts to a yearly-issued, and set amount, coupon to purchase healthcare services at a private hospital or doctor’s office, or use as a discount card to purchase a private insurance policy.
There are two specific reasons Republicans and the Kochs want to issue what amounts to a discount coupon to Veterans to use for healthcare. One is because the Kochs see a prime opportunity to make more money from the nation’s Veterans, and two; it is an easy means of eliminating part of the federal government they hate with religious conviction. It is noteworthy that the cost-effective, highly-successful, and wildly popular Veterans healthcare system is the only completely socialized part of the federal government and the Koch-Republicans want it eliminated immediately. That they deprive Veterans of quality healthcare is a value-added bonus only Republicans that hate troops once they are finished serving can celebrate.
While Republicans envision punishing over 8 million veterans enrolled to receive a wide range of services through the VA with a coupon and higher out-of-pocket expenses, the Kochs see potential profits from privateers. Privatization means corporations will profit from the annual “89.7 million outpatient visits” and over “236,000 health care appointments per day” of Veterans at no charge because they served their country and survived. The Koch goal, like all GOP privatization scams is leaving over 8 million veterans, tens-of-thousands with combat-related injuries, without coverage or services; it is the how the GOP supports the troops after they send them to fight unnecessary wars of aggression.
Private hospitals, community clinics, and private doctors cannot match Veterans health centers’ provided services because they are not uniquely equipped to deal with specialized care for combat-related injuries like amputations, psychological disorders, and traumatic brain injuries. However, Republicans or the Kochs are not the least bit concerned with offering care to Veterans. Not when they can provide a coupon for Koch profit and privatization for Koch’s libertarian ideology; Veteran’s health and welfare has never entered into the equation. The Veteran’s coupon scam is sponsored and heavily promoted by the “special interest Koch lobby” Concerned Veterans For (Koch’s) America that betrays its ‘concern’ for America’s Veterans by pushing privatization. Privatization that real Veteran’s advocacy groups such as AMVETS, Disabled American Veterans, Paralyzed Veterans of America, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars are all adamantly opposed to because they believe Veteran’s deserve more than being subjected to a pathetic healthcare coupon scam.
Veterans, and the groups they belong to, understand that sending more than 8 million of America’s Veterans, many of them older and sicker than most Americans, particularly those requiring highly-specialized care for rare and complex health problems to private insurers, private doctors, and private pharmaceutical companies is an abomination. They know what the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office concluded was that handing out discount coupons for Veterans’ healthcare will create certain chaos and de facto healthcare rationing on a grand scale. In fact, the CBO gave the same assessment to privatizing Veteran’s healthcare as they did Paul Ryan’s scam of transforming Medicare into a discount coupon. Privatizing the VA with a coupon, like a coupon for Medicare, will do nothing but create a “dramatic shift of health care costs onto patients.” Apparently America’s Veterans have not yet paid enough through their service to America so the Koch-Republican plan is making them pay more for the rest of their lives; another way Republicans support the troops.
According to a Rand Corporation explanation in 2012 of how, “‘Socialized’ or Not, We Can Learn from the VA,” the Veterans health care system “delivers care as good or better than its private sector counterparts; all while doing a much better job of controlling costs for American taxpayers.” The Rand study revealed that the Veteran’s health care system delivered a consistently higher-quality of care than “the national sample of private hospitals and doctors on all measures except acute care” in which each sample was comparable. In every other aspect the Veterans received better care on all counts including screenings, diagnosis, treatment, and access to physicians and services on follow up.
Among chronic care patients of which especially older and disabled Veterans make up a larger share than in the private sector, the Rand study reported that VA patients received over 70 percent of recommended care compared with under 60 percent in the national sample. The difference was substantially greater with preventive care where VA patients received 65 percent of recommended care compared to patients in the private national sample receiving preventive care less than 45 percent of the time. Privatization means less care all the way around for higher costs to taxpayers and Veterans that the Koch-Republicans pant to enact and the Republican candidates for president will be pushing leading up to the 2016 general election regardless the opposition from those it will impact most; America’s Veterans.
The GOP and their money machine portrays a coupon for Veterans the same way they portray a coupon for Medicare; a major cost saving measure that provides incredibly better service. However, as far as cost savings, the socialized Veteran’s healthcare system has always outperformed the private sector by a wide margin. The CBO calculated that after adjusting for changing cases as younger veterans have, and are, returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and require healthcare services, the VA’s average health care cost per enrollee grew by about 1.7% from 1999 to 2005; an annual growth rate of 0.3%. During the same six year period, Medicare’s per capita costs grew by 29.4 % or an annual growth rate of 4.4 %. However, in the private insurance market during that time premiums for family coverage jumped by more than 70% according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Republicans’ call for privatizing the VA means substandard care, more expense, and higher costs to Veterans who fought Republican wars. President Obama and Democrats have attempted to increase funding for Veterans, but Republicans blocked any increase that could improve the Veteran’s health system and make it even more successful and popular than it already is. Republicans and the Kochs want Veterans healthcare services slashed through privatization and make the Veterans bear the brunt of the expense. It may be a day to remember those that made the ultimate sacrifice in service to their country, but it looks as if Republicans intend on making those who fought and survived continue making sacrifices for the rest of their lives or until the next Republican war of aggression.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.
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