Why do we have VA system anyway?
I have always questioned the logic behind the seemingly duplicative Veterans Affairs health system. In our modern era equipped with a connected and competent system of nonprofit and for-profit hospitals, clinics and other health care providers, I am baffled by the inefficiencies, wait times and lack of dissemination of critical information to outside providers that our veterans are routinely forced to endure.
They deserve better. In fact, they deserve the very best.
As a provider of long-term health care for the dementia population for the past 20 years, I have witnessed the negative impact that our government-run system, operating without competition or free-market forces, has on our veteran population. Many of my residents are veterans, and when my staff members learn that a resident’s hospital of choice is the VA, they automatically know that the level of care will not be on par with that of residents referred from the traditional health care system.
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I am absolutely certain that mimicking a system like Medicare that is centered on governmental negotiation with the traditional health care system, even if the overall cost per procedure were slightly higher, would save our economy a massive amount of money. In addition, our tax dollars would not be supporting a completely inefficient system that does not serve our veterans’ basic health care needs.
What has allegedly happened in Arizona and perhaps at other Veterans Affairs facilities regarding waiting lists for treatment is a national tragedy. However, it is very sad to see the very people who helped cause the problems – that is the Republican House and filibustering Senate members – claim to be pro-veteran.
It is the Republicans who – over and over and over – have cut the budget. It was the Republicans who, just in February of this year, filibustered a bill that would have enhanced VA benefits, built new facilities and restored aging ones. The bill was too expensive, they said, at $21 billion over a 10-year period. But, of course, they forgot to mention that they had just recently shut down the government for two weeks, which cost about $24 billion.
Yes, folks, Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts voted against helping our veterans.
The city of Wichita decided to do a social media town hall meeting for citizens, which was great (May 21 Local & State). But the city scheduled it on a Wednesday from 1:30 to 3 p.m. This nearly guaranteed no nine-to-five working Wichitan could participate in this discussion. Many employers in Wichita block social networking entirely.
The City Council also schedules many in-person input meetings during the day on weekdays. For example, how many working Wichitans can get to the meeting from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall regarding the bicycle master plan, or the remaining 5:15 p.m. community engagement meetings at the Downtown YMCA?
Wichita is a tale of two cities: those who can go to these events in the middle of the weekday, and regular, hardworking Wichitans.
If I were a City Council member or the mayor, I’d stay late for my fellow citizens’ input.
My friends and I thank the Wichita City Council for voting to proceed with plans for a new downtown Wichita library (May 14 Eagle).
Although we recognize the vote is not a council commitment to build a new library, it certainly is finally strong support to proceed to work toward a design concept for the new library.
My friends are lifelong learners who recognize that we live in a global economy and knowledge is power, if we and our children are to competitively participate with the world.
We are very conscious of our limited economy in Wichita and Kansas, and how we are not attracting well-paying job opportunities. Sadly, we see professional friends leaving Wichita for employment out of state. We feel that in order to attract new businesses Wichita and Kansas have to provide up-to-date community benefits. That includes the up-to-date technological advances for all our residents that the new downtown library can provide, to keep us more abreast of current global knowledge.
From time to time the media feature stories in which taxpayers question whether monies from school bonds are being spent wisely for educating our children. I recently had an opportunity to tour my alma mater, Wichita High School East, and I have never been as pleasantly surprised as I was in seeing the improvements to the old facilities and addition of the new ones.
The new additions include a performing arts center that seats about 600, band and orchestra rehearsal rooms, private sound-proof instrument rehearsal rooms, a new gymnasium that seats about 2,000 and has an oval track on its second level, a weight exercise room, a new swimming pool, new tennis courts, a new football field and new soccer fields. Classrooms are equipped with computers and whatever special equipment is needed for teaching a given subject.
It was also a treat to see the annual “Stars” program in which the fine arts students, from freshmen through seniors, presented their vocal and instrumental talents. The musicians in the jazz band were most impressive. These students are, I believe, representative of most of the students who are learning skills and developing talents.
About 380 students participate in the International Baccalaureate program. This program has no doubt contributed to East High being recognized by U.S. News and World Report as the No. 1 public high school in the state. From all I have seen and heard, there is no doubt that the money spent on updating our public school facilities is needed and being spent wisely to prepare our students for their future.
While all proponents of democracy and our republican form of government endorse the concept of separation of powers, folks should know that the founders actually intended for the Congress to be the less separated of the three branches.
The presidency as it has evolved – into a branch of government that does not simply execute laws but legislates and adjudicates them as well – is exactly what the founders feared most from the executive branch.
If we are to restore the republic that Benjamin Franklin would conclude we have lost, it is essential that representatives to Congress be elected who do not serve political parties first and foremost, and who are limited in the number of terms they can hold. Recurring congresses that bring to both chambers alternated numbers of new citizen legislators are the best we can hope for in combating the excesses caused by career politicians and their subordinate bureaucrats.
Perhaps as these new congresses evolve, those elected will come to reassert the role of the legislative branch and the power the people give to themselves in maintaining the pre-eminence to the executive branch. Then from there legislators can begin to selectively and carefully dismantle the burdensome, expensive, wasteful and corruptible executive branch bureaucracy.
RON A. HOFFMAN
I would like to ask retail stores why they think they need my phone number or my e-mail address to process a sale. Why must I be signed up for their store’s “card” to get a better price on my merchandise? Why can’t a cashier have the courtesy to say “thank you” for shopping there and place our receipt into the bag, instead of shoving the receipt into our hands along with our change?
Let’s make a deal, retailers: Quit asking personal questions. Quit making us use your store cards. Train cashiers to be better representatives of your stores by acknowledging us as customers and by not treating us like livestock they have to get through the line.
Come on, retailers. The least you can do is be thankful we chose your store to spend our money in.