There are almost 22 million veterans living in our country.
That is 22 million lives.
22 million families.
22 million reasons to better our health care.
These people have served and dedicated their time, families and lives to making sure the United States remains a free and prosperous country. Each and every one of these veterans deserves the very best in return.
So why are we hearing reports of veterans not receiving the proper care they need? In the past year, we have learned at least 40 veterans in the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care System died while waiting for appointments, and possibly almost a thousand passed away due to malpractice or complete lack of care. In addition, more than 100,000 veterans were waiting on securing appointments with a physician and over 500,000 medical claims are still pending.
Is this really the way we should be handling the care of those who sacrificed so much and often need it the most? Granted, there are now efforts underway to “restructure” the Veterans Affairs office, including 35 staffers losing their jobs. But is that enough? Simply put: no.
The lack of compassion and mishandling of veterans as patients is just another example of how the U.S. health care system does not work as is. We need to be reminded that when building and designing health care programs such as payment reform initiatives, ACOs, patient centered medical homes, price and quality transparency reports, our mindset should go beyond dollars and think about the real bottom line: people.
So today, as we thank our veterans who so proudly and graciously served and continue to serve, let’s also be reminded of how those of us in the health care industry can work on their behalf to create a more effective and affordable system.