The Veteran’s Administration is and has been run inefficiently and more important ineffectually for decades. President Obama’s promises in 2008 and 2009 to “correct” the problems with the VA can be attributed to the naiveté of all new presidents convinced they can make a difference. In Obama’s case he appointed a new Secretary of the VA and forgot about it. What is different now is that the scandal and make no mistake it is a scandal has revealed possible deaths occurring due to gross mismanagement of the VA at every level. We will hear “war” stories over the next few months of cover ups, delayed or completely missed treatments and we will be outraged that this could happen to our veterans. What we should recognize is that the VA scandal is the forerunner of what the ACA will be. Federal programs are notorious for inefficiencies but when it comes to life threatening results the issue must be addressed. I’m going to relate my experiences at the business level with the VA to show what kind of experience we will all have with the ACA, the only other federally controlled health program.
When I was president of LiftAid [a durable medical equipment business] I did business with several VA regions [I believe there were seven at the time] and I wished to expand with new business in a VA hospital in Florida. One of the features of our product was that it was all American made and American assembled. You need to know that most durable medical equipment comes from European and Scandinavian countries because these countries practice socialized medicine and the governments pay for these expensive pieces of equipment. In turn the overseas manufactures of these products aggressively market their products in the U.S. because their profit margins are much greater when the purchasers are to the VA or private hospitals or practices.
The VA is governed by congress and congress dutifully requires favored nation treatment to American made products. Remember I was already doing business with the VA in a couple of districts and for at least three years. When I applied for the opportunity in Florida to provide our lift product I was told [via e-mail] I would get consideration. I did not hear back from them and discovered that the contract had been awarded to a Scandinavian firm. I contacted the VA by e-mail [the only source they had used to communicate with me] and they said my product didn’t qualify because it wasn’t American made. I wrote back that I had provided copies of contracts with other VA regional offices in which it clearly indicated we were 100% American made. Suddenly their e-mail address was discontinued, the phones would not be answered except to suggest we leave a message that of course was never returned. I received no further explanation or any kind of communication. I went to my congressman and senators in Michigan and ask for help. Their collective response was the VA was “too powerful to mess with” and better luck next time! Remember at that time the VA budget was the largest of any budget in the government including military, this was of course before the ACA which will now be the largest budget in the government. What do you think will happen?