President Biden recently signed S. 3541 into law, making another promise he can’t keep to America’s veterans. The Health Care for Burn Pit Veterans Act purports to offer injured soldiers medical care, but this is false.
Reportedly, “The bill extends the eligibility period for VA hospital care, medical services, and nursing home care for combat veterans who served after September 11, 2001, and were exposed to toxic substances, radiation, or other conditions.”
Other elements of the legislation include the provision of training about exposure to toxic substances, funding the further analysis of morbidity and mortality data and trends in cancer among veterans, and providing for the development and publication of a list of Veterans Affairs (VA) resources for affected veterans and their families.
Biden’s Health Care for Burn Pit Veterans Act is what happens when government malfeasance is exposed: Washington accepts no accountability and provides a faux solution through legislation that solves nothing. The government’s response to the incident at Camp Lejeune is another example.
At Camp Lejeune, for more than three decades, the drinking water was contaminated with benzene and other medically injurious chemicals resulting in various cancers, other devastating illnesses, and even deaths on Camp Lejeune’s premises.
So Washington responded with a bill extending insurance “eligibility” to the people who fell ill from drinking this water. The words “medical care” did not appear anywhere in the bill. There were no provisions for who would provide care or where and when care could be attained. The afflicted were only granted additional insurance benefits.
Democratic politicians and bureaucrats conflate insurance benefits with tangible medical care in the form of services and medication. Despite evidence proving they are quite different, many people still hold to the false belief that the provision of insurance directly manifests in health care. It doesn’t. In fact, as new regulations are promulgated, as coverage is expanded, and as more money goes to insurance companies and federal bureaucrats, access to care goes down!
Neither words on paper nor freshly printed dollar bills provide medical care. People do. Only trained professionals using modern facilities in adequate numbers can deliver the promised care. The VA, and for that matter, the whole health care system, is insufficiently staffed. With a shortage of both people and places, patients wait in line so long for needed care that they die. An internal VA audit reported that “47,000 veterans may have died” waiting for technically possible but unavailable life-saving care.
Washington is notoriously bad at “legislating” medical care for Americans. After all, saying someone has a right to a good or service does not make that good or service manifest. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) made medical care less available. Before the ACA, the average maximum wait time to see a physician was an unacceptable 99 days. After the ACA was implemented, wait time had increased to an unconscionable 122 days.
Like veterans with Tricare insurance, Medicaid enrollees experience death-by-queueing. According to reporter Nick Horton, “752 Illinoisans on the state’s Medicaid waiting list have died awaiting needed care.”
There is the tragedy of 12-year-old Deamonte Driver, who died of a brain abscess that came from an untreated dental cavity. No pediatric dentists were willing to accept Medicaid patients in his home city of Prince George, Maryland.
Between the low reimbursement rates and the frustrating, time-and-money-consuming paperwork, increasing numbers of physicians are refusing to see Medicaid and Medicare patients. According to a recent survey, 92 percent of medical group practices report that Medicare payments do not cover the cost of providing care. If doctors want to stay in business, they must turn away Medicare patients.
Ignore Washington’s grandiose rhetoric and reassuring promises that never materialize. The evidence is clear. Every time Democrats expand insurance coverage, legislate additional benefits, and pass more health care regulations, Americans’ access to care goes down.
Only by reducing the number and scope of health care regulations and shrinking the federal health care bureaucracy can Americans get the medical care they need.