Monday, March 05, 2007

A Free-Market Solution to Walter Reed

Fire of Liberty

If I know Congress, then I'm pretty sure that we'll hear a lot of talk about how disgusted members of Congress are about the conditions at Walter Reed and how "heads should roll"(Due to the steadfastness work of Defense Secretary Gates, folks in charge have been relieved of duty.) but when push comes to shove I doubt that anything will be done.

Now while I doubt Congress will ever take my advice, I feel strongly in urging them to take a completely different approach. Looking at the state of things at Walter Reed, one can clearly agree that when it comes to the federal government and an agency like the VA, the bureaucrats are going to be less likely to be efficient and timely with their patients because they know their clients don't have the money or ability to go anywhere else.

Following the notion of Milton Friedman's TV series and book "Free to Choose," this nation and our vets would be best served if the choice of medical facilities into the hands of the patient rather than the federal behemoth of the VA. As with everything else, individuals tend to make better choices when they have the ability rather than what someone in an office in D.C. can decide. So what I suggest is for the Veteran Administration to either create a medical system in which the veterans insurance is portable and can be used by the veteran to seek out a efficient and clean(And in a lot of cases they're more affordable) facility in the private sector or allow them to remain at a government facility, all of which is according to their choosing. They could take the step further by introducing a voucher system that provides a certain amount of money for each veteran to use in their health care thus they'll be much more likely to be wary of what they spend and will only go to a place they like rather than being stuck where a bureaucrat wants you to go. This whole notion in this "freedom to choose" option is to introduce some competition into the game of Veteran health care that pits the federal government against the private sector.

Unlike the VA, the people running the private sector are in the game to make money and cannot afford to lose their customers because of bad service or horrific conditions therefore they'll be on their toes to continue to keep their patients happy in an effort to keep on keeping their business. Thus, I believe that if such a situation is introduced in the VA system we'd see a large turnaround and less and less of the horrors that we've read in the Washington Post as of late. Until such a dramatic change like this and less of the broken federal government band-aide , will continue to see things like the mess at Walter Reed.

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