The secret waiting list of veterans needing medical care at a Phoenix healthcare facility for vets is a disgrace if not criminal. The list was apparently created to hide the fact that veterans were waiting months to see a doctor for treatments. It is alleged that 40 veterans died due to the delay in medical care although a yet to be completed review so far has found that 17 of those deaths were not due to a delay in treatment. But this doesn’t excuse the use of secret waiting lists and withholding of medical treatment.
Now there are allegations that other VA hospitals might also have kept secret waiting lists to make their numbers look better. Members of Congress are demanding change and accountability at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and rightfully so.
Republicans have particularly jumped quickly on this and have hurried to get in front of the cameras. After all, the exposure comes on President Obama’s watch and the GOP finally has a real scandal of some significance to hammer the Administration.
But we have Americans dying every day in this country from a lack of medical care…not because they were put on a secret waiting list but because they are on no waiting list at all.
These Americans, many of them veterans also, are the unfortunate ones living in states that have refused to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Most of these states, like South Carolina, have Republican Governors who simply will not make this healthcare available to their very low-income citizens simply out of partisanship and hatred of “Obamacare”.
Some of these uninsured are dying because they are not receiving medical care as a new study reveals. The health impact of the nearly universal health insurance program in Massachusetts, which was the model for the Affordable Care Act, clearly shows that having health insurance saves lives. Lauren Sausser of the Charleston Post and Courier covered this study.
A new study published recently in the Annals of Internal Medicine suggests health insurance offers more than just peace of mind. In Massachusetts, researchers found health care reform was associated with decreased mortality. For every 830 newly insured residents, one death was prevented. The results were more dramatic in poorer counties with higher rates of uninsured residents.
We are not yet certain that veterans may have died because they did not receive timely medical care. But we are now certain that low-income Americans are dying for lack of medical care in states that have not expanded Medicaid to these needed citizens.
Yes, we all honor our veterans and want them to receive the medical services they deserve. Are our low-income citizens not also deserving of such compassion, respect and medical care that can save their lives? Where is the outrage?