Tag: Healthcare

Wait Time At VA Exposed Failures

The effect and cost of war on our troops is undeniable. It takes a toll on the toughest among them. Coming home should offer peace and a chance to heal.

But the reality is that our veterans often come home indelibly changed, marked with the scars of war. They deal with wounds that are both visible and invisible. I’ve seen firsthand the true cost of war, and through our veterans, we see how that cost continues long after they come home.

Forty years ago, 75 percent of Congress had served our country in uniform. Today, that number has dropped to just 18 percent. Sadly, it shows. One of the main reasons I ran for Congress was to bring voice to my brothers and sisters in uniform, to stop our country’s leaders from sending them into harm’s way to fight unnecessary wars of choice, and to honor their service by caring for them when they come home.

Last year, our country’s failure to fulfill its promise to our veterans was starkly exposed. At the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), veterans faced wait times of 90 days or more to see a doctor. Hawaii veterans experienced the worst wait times in the country, averaging 145 days — almost five months — for a simple primary care visit. Unfortunately, these inexcusable wait times have only scratched the surface of the systemic problems that still exist within the VA and the obstacles that stand in the way of our veterans getting the care they need.

Of all the calls and requests for assistance my office gets, veterans who need help make up the vast majority. Far too many veterans in our state are still being dishonored — a Kauai veteran whose documents have been repeatedly misplaced by the VA and VBA (Veterans Benefits Administration); a disabled medic with post-traumatic stress disorder on Maui whose request for an evaluation so he can obtain a service dog is stuck in a bureaucratic appeals case; or a veteran on Hawaii island with cancer whose benefits were just reduced.

As VA crises unfolded last year, I introduced a bill called the Access to Care and Treatment (ACT) Now for Veterans Act. The bill’s premise, to allow veterans to get the immediate care they need from non-VA medical providers, was ultimately included in the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act that was enacted last year.

While far from perfect, this legislation has provided some immediate relief to our veterans who’ve been waiting so long for care.

The VA must begin to rebuild veterans’ trust by holding leaders accountable for their malpractice and focusing on its mission of serving veterans.

If our country invested as much time, resources and capital into serving our veterans as it does into nation-building in other countries, spending $43 million on building a gas station in Afghanistan, or pursuing failed missions, such as the $500 million effort to train and equip so-called moderate Syrian rebels, we could be on the road toward making sure that our nation’s sons and daughters receive the care and services they were promised, have earned, and deserve.

After serving and sacrificing for all of us, every single veteran should come home knowing that we are there for them, and we have their back.

Healthcare Systems In The U.S. And Other Countries Explained

Healthcare Triage has created a number of videos explaining the healthcare systems in the U.S. and other prominent countries. Below is a selection of those videos to give you a better sense of how these countries provide healthcare to their citizens.


The United States






The United Kingdom




















How Single Payer Healthcare Works

This Vox video summarizes what people and especially politicians mean when they say “single payer healthcare.” It acknowledges that single payer healthcare is a contentious issue – some think that it is the solution to the healthcare system’s issues or “silver bullet” others think that it is government takeover. 

First, Vox describes the current healthcare system in the U.S. that they describe as multiple “tubes” or “thousands and thousands of payer healthcare and each of them pay different amounts for the exact same medical service.” This leads to a lot of administrative work.

In contrast, a single payer system is “just one tube of payments” where all the money comes from the government to the doctors.Vox comments that single payer healthcare is “actually pretty popular” in countries that have adopted single payer.

However, Vox describes that there is a “catch” because the government “gets to decide what they will and will not pay for.” In addition, if the government has not raised enough in taxes for the healthcare plan it could lead to more wait times.

The video ends referencing Vermont’s attempt at creating a single payer healthcare system and the possibility that if a state were to successfully implement a system like that, the country could follow suit.


Entitlements Hysteria

One of the unshakable myths of the punditariat is that the federal government is going bankrupt because of entitlements spending, especially spending on Medicare and Medicaid. Each day we hear the drumbeat saying that either we cut entitlements now or we are finished as a nation. This is a stampede of unreason, contradicted by the facts.

Look at the new budget released at the beginning of the week. Table S-6 on page 212 is the operative page. According to the President’s budget, Medicare and Medicaid would rise slightly from 5.1 percent of GDP in 2011 to 5.5 percent of GDP in 2020. Not exactly the stuff of deficit cataclysm.

So what is the source of the hysteria? Some of it is simply propaganda, by those with the political agenda to gut the country’s social safety net.

But there is something else. Confusion! The punditocracy is repeating the results of forecasts that indeed suggest calamity, but calamity in the late 21st century, not now. These long-term forecasts are arbitrary but have been repeated as an immutable fact by those who don’t read the fine print. The most frequently quoted forecast is that of the Congressional Budget Office.

The CBO’s long-term forecast assumes that health care costs will continue to rise steeply during the next 70 years, though at a diminishing rate. If healthcare costs continue to soar for decades to come, then yes, lo-and-behold, the government would eventually go broke. Federal spending on health care would reach around 25 percent of GNP in 2085.

Yet somehow I’m not ready to panic about the health care costs as of 2085. Mechanical extrapolations that assume that health care costs will rise much faster than GNP between 2011 and 2085 are utterly unconvincing. Why should healthcare costs continue to rise so far and fast when healthcare costs are already vastly over-priced now compared with what other countries pay for the same services? Why should we assume failure decade after decade to use the new information technologies to lower the costs of health-care delivery and administration?

In fact, the recent trends are mildly favorable. As J. D. Keinke of the American Enterprise Institute writes today in the Wall Street Journal, the idea of runaway health spending is a “myth” because “new data show that health spending over the past several years has been normalizing toward the rate of general inflation, rather than growing higher and higher, as had been the case almost continuously since the 1970s.”

Public outrage and market pressures are gradually prevailing over the health-care lobby. American households will ultimately get the care they need much nearer to the lower prices that most other countries pay. Even if we don’t get all the way down to the lower costs that we should have, there is no reason to assume that health care costs will continue to soar year in and year out for another seven decades.

Let’s therefore fight the… hysteria demanding immediate and harsh cuts in Medicaid and other health outlays. We do not need to cut off the lifeline of the poor and elderly. We simply need to keep up the pressure against the healthcare lobbies, and resist the panic of the punditariat

Senator Bernie Sanders On Public Healthcare

In this video from 2009 Senator Bernie Sanders talks about universal health care. 

He begins his speech by looking at two “socialized medicine” systems currently provided by the United States government: the VA and Medicare. He describes their popularity with Americans and then compares that popularity with the popularity of the private healthcare system. Specifically, he mentions that Medicare and the VA do not throw people off of insurance because of preexisting conditions.

Senator Sanders argues that the function of the United States government’s policy on healthcare should not be to support the insurance industry. Instead, it should be to help the American people by providing the “best quality healthcare in the most cost effective way” and Senator Sanders uses polling to demonstrate that the majority of the American public is in support of universal health insurance program.