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VA brouhaha

Posted: May 27, 2014 8:58 a.m.
Updated: May 28, 2014 5:00 a.m.

Noted conservative commentator and writer George Will made a valid point recently in discussing the crisis at the Veterans Affairs Department. The federal government, he said, is really good at one thing: writing checks. But when it comes to operational matters, Uncle Sam seems to regularly find new and innovative ways to foul things up. The VA brouhaha is a classic example.

Will suggested that in the case of long waits for appointments -- so long that many veterans have died waiting for treatment -- that the government could issue vouchers for private health care, thus ensuring that vets can get timely medical treatment. This is necessary for those who have fought in all wars. As has been noted, Vietnam-era vets are now at an age when physical problems are common, and prompt medical care is necessary. And, of course, there are thousands of Middle East vets who have suffered injuries of all kinds.

Will’s idea, of course, is not unique to him. Many have suggested that the VA would be wise to pursue such a course. And it makes sense. There would have to be safeguards to make sure such a system is not abused, but it’s difficult to imagine a scenario worse than the situation that currently exists. Innovative thinking -- “out of the box” solutions, to use an overworked term -- is necessary. After all, the government hasn’t proved very competent at the very tasks it assigns itself to do.

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