This is considerably more troubling.Here’s one quick fix that could save many lives and cost taxpayers almost nothing: 47 percent of VA users are 65 or older and already on Medicare. They need bypass surgery, angioplasty and hip and knee replacements, like other seniors.Often, they use the VA to avoid Medicare’s out-of-pocket expenses. Their average household income is $36,000. Enabling them to use Medicare without co-pays could cut VA waiting lists by nearly half.
It’s not a money problem. Congress appropriated a record $163 billion to the VA in 2016, more than the department requested.The real problem is a lack of discipline at all levels. Consider the alarming increase in central-line infections — a key indicator of hospital quality. These lethal infections are totally preventable when medical staff rigorously follow protocols. Some civilian hospitals have reduced them to zero. The VA has no excuse.Whoever Trump appoints as VA secretary will face a hostile and legally entrenched bureaucracy determined to protect its own cushy jobs, instead of serving vets.