As an avid reader of your magazine and an ardent defender of veterans and the veterans healthcare system, I agree with and am disappointed by your articles and editorial touting the wonders of privatizing the only healthcare system in the U.S. with the primary mission of serving veterans' needs ("The VA on the firing line," Nov. 23, 1998, p. 48, and "Vets might be better served by paid-for private-sector healthcare," Nov. 30, 1998, p. 40).
The editorial says veterans "need high-quality, cost-effective care." To be sure. However, to understand the pundits who argue for privatizing the Department of Veterans Affairs healthcare system, one must understand their motivation. Privatizing the VA would be a boon to their coffers. They would like veterans to correct their occupancy-rate and market-share deficits. The same groups that scream for less bureaucracy seek to lessen their own shortfalls through increased government funding for their new patients: veterans.
The VA healthcare system treats some of the oldest, sickest and poorest members of our society. We are not concerned about whether they have health insurance; we are concerned about the treatment they receive. Our nation's heroes will not be best served by those who would privatize vets' healthcare for the wrong goal. Our nation's heroes deserve to be treated by a healthcare delivery system with only one goal in mind: improving their health.
Veterans Affairs Medical Center