When thousands of health care professionals at the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) greet their patients every day at more than 1200 facilities around the country, the first thing they say is: “thank you for your service.” Their own dedicated service to 9 million veterans is equally worthy of gratitude–and most of those benefiting from it freely express theirs as well.
Unfortunately, President-elect Trump, who never served in the military, doesn’t feel the same way about the care provided by the VHA’s 300,000 employees or show similar respect to their patients. In his recent campaign, Trump said mentally ill veterans for weren’t strong and “can’t handle it”(not to mention calling former Navy pilot John McCain a “loser” for being shot down in combat, badly injured, captured and then abused as a prisoner of war).
Trump also favors privatization of VHA services across-the-board. Congressional Republicans will now have an Oval office champion for their efforts not only to repeal “Obamacare,” but to begin the process of dismantling the VHA. READ MORE
On the campaign trail, President-elect Donald Trump repeated one key promise: to “Make America Great Again” by increasing the country’s military might and supporting its 24 million military veterans. After all, he promised to raise money for veterans and said he donated a million dollars out of his own pocket to veterans’ charities.
But Trump showed his true colors long before Election Day. He finally wrote a personal check to one veteran’s group but only after four months when reporters shamed him into doing so. Trump dissed mentally ill veterans for being weak. Most famously, he called Senator John McCain, who was a Navy pilot during the Vietnam War, a “loser” after being shot down in combat, badly injured, captured, and then abused as a prisoner of war. Nevertheless, many veterans voted for Trump by a large margin.
That’s no great start for “veterans affairs.” But the mistreatment of vets could go from rhetorical to real. That’s because Trump favors some form of privatization of all Veterans Health Administration services, a long sought-after goal of congressional Republicans. READ MORE
Hoping to Help: Improving Short-Term Medical Missions
Nurse midwives and their students are among the hundreds of thousands of people from wealthy parts of the world who travel abroad every year to participate in short-term programs intended to improve the health and well-being of people in poor countries. Considering the horrific toll of maternal and infant mortality in so many countries, the potential for improving health and quality of life draws students and professionals who want to alleviate suffering as well as learn about the world.
Short-term medical missions (STMMs) have been praised for the dedication of volunteers and their valuable impact in poor communities. At the same time, these trips have increasingly been subject to severe criticism for promoting ‘drive-by humanitarianism’ and as a new form of colonialism. North American medical faculty have expressed increasing concern about untrained and unlicensed students “practicing” medicine in ways they cannot (and should not) do at home. And many well-intentioned volunteers return from their trips wondering whether they made a difference. So how valuable are STMMs, either to the volunteers or to the communities they visit? Read More
With political candidates sparring about the 25 percent increased premiums for Affordable Care Act (ACA) insurance plans, the questions of why has this occurred and how we can ameliorate it are bouncing around the media. As a primary care doctor, the answers to these questions reveal themselves every day in my office. While it is convenient to demonize the ACA, insurance companies, and even Big Pharma, the actual cause is related to flawed assumptions and rules within our health care delivery system. One just has to see where insurance pays its money to understand how to fix the problem.
More than 50 percent of Medicare’s non-HMO funding is sent to hospitals and specialist doctors, often for procedures and interventions shown to have little value at high cost. For CareFirst in Maryland, 23 percent of funding is for specialist care and 40 percent for hospital/facility cost, much of this incurred by elective procedures. Only 5 percent of cost goes to primary care. Such excessive spending for aggressive procedure-based medical care is a salient reason that insurance companies are raising premiums. Is such spending beneficial?
Suzanne Gordon is an award-winning journalist and author/editor of 18 books. She has written for The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Washington Post, American Prospect, Atlantic, Toronto Globe and Mail, Toronto Star. Gordon is a popular lecturer. Much of her professional focus is on patient safety and on helping to teach and encourage better communication and teamwork in healthcare settings. Click here to learn more.