By Andrew Coates, M.D.
The New York Times, Letters, Feb. 11, 2019
To the Editor:
Re: “V.A. Rule Would Broaden Access to Private Health Care for Some Veterans” (news article, Jan. 31):
The Department of Veterans Affairs has begun to shift tremendous resources, measured in billions, away from publicly provided — and therefore publicly accountable — medical and surgical care.
Precisely the wrong direction!
What is the big problem at the publicly run veterans hospitals and clinics? Cynically underfund a great public service and then advertise only its failures, while ignoring its fundamental and irrefutable successes.
The V.A. should not be torn down, but defended and expanded — on history, on principle and especially on its superlative health outcomes. Instead of privatization, we should demand expansion of the V.A.
We desperately need a national health program. We should see in the V.A. system a foundation for a national health service, able to offer excellent and accountable care for everyone in the United States.
Dr. Andrew Coates is an assistant professor of medicine and psychiatry at Albany Medical College and a past president of Physicians for a National Health Program.