From an editorial Sunday in the (Greensboro) News & Record:
No more finger-pointing about poor access to medical care for the nations veterans. Its time to fix the problems.
A strong, bipartisan Senate bill aims to do that.
Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina is one of the architects. He, along with John McCain and two other Republican senators, introduced the Veterans Choice Act Tuesday. It would allow patients to receive private medical care at government expense if they cant see Department of Veterans Affairs providers.
Thursday, McCain announced an agreement to merge that bill with another bill proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent, that is supported by Senate Democrats.
This issue should bridge the usual political divide. Veterans arent Republicans or Democrats; theyre Americans who made sacrifices to defend their country. Now is the time for setting things right. If VA medical centers need more physicians, nurses and other health care professionals, those should be hired. If its not possible to meet staffing demands quickly enough, private care must be offered as an alternative.
Thats not the total solution. The Department of Veterans Affairs cant be relieved of its responsibility. On the contrary: Stronger accountability measures must be put in place, and the Senate bill seeks to do that.
The VA is equipped to provide excellent medical care. Many veterans are well-pleased with the treatment they get. The problem is that too many are shut out. So it must be the top priority to open doors for veterans who have been kept on long waiting lists.
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