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National health care reform's two-step - veterans deserve health care

No matter what, the national health care debate is really ugly. With multiple versions of a health care reform bill that all must be reconciled into a coherent plan, Congress has an obligation to keep in mind: No matter what happens with a single payer or private sector system, our nation must maintain its long-standing tradition that veterans and military health care systems remain independent from the reform debate.

What isn’t being said on national news is how veterans are in jeopardy because of this debate. The fight to merge the VA health care system with a national health care plan isn’t something ABC, NBC, Fox or CBS is flashing across the Internet or TV alongside major war headlines.

With 26-million veterans and nearly two million active duty personnel in more than 130 countries, the Veterans Administration’s health system is one of the two largest single-payer plans in the nation. The other is Medicare. It didn’t seem likely it would be too long before the debate would turn on the VA’s system.

In the 80s and prior, after decades of degradation and neglect, the VA system was in a shambles. Where were the VA critics then that are so outspoken today? The VA health care question was for a lengthy time swept under the Congressional rug. Arduous changes since then have produced a VA system that works, albeit slowly and certainly not with perfection, but the system works. Veterans do receive health care.

What isn’t working is a corporate-run health care system that takes our money and doesn’t provide benefits, most especially to the sick. One of the main causes for a privately run health care system is to deny coverage to the disabled and elderly and veterans. We take up a large percentage of costs without a profit from us on veterans’ benefits. With $98.7 billion in appropriations to the VA, the $2.2 trillion private health care industry wants a piece of the veteran and Medicare pie. Most Congressional seats are contingent upon this economic paradigm.

The urgent call by President Barack Obama for national health care reform is rightly at the forefront of the nation’s eye right now. A Congressional mandate that every citizen purchase private health coverage is a blistering question for our future. Even when we do pay for private sector insurance, we’re left short-changed when the chips are down. Sixty-two percent of personal bankruptcies are the consequence of medical illness and the related financial hardship. The idea that health insurance is for the sick is an archaic profit model for insurance companies.

A July 2009 New York Times/CBS poll found 82 percent of respondents said the U.S. health care system needed to be fundamentally changed or completely rebuilt. Sixty-six percent supported a government-administered insurance plan similar to Medicare for those under 65, a plan respondents anticipated would compete for customers with private insurers.

We’re getting the short end of the stick no matter what, and we all know it.

The charade in Congress called reform is in reality a restructuring of the portions of health care that aren’t making profit, at the cost of the Congressperson or President’s campaign war chest if they don’t comply with the existing economic paradigm. Congress must ensure that veterans and military health benefits are not part of any national health care bill but rather exempt in this so-called reform legislation. The health of our veterans depends on it.

Vets Calendar Outlook & Look back:

Sandpoint Elks Lodge #1376 is hosting the Second Patriotic Golf Scramble, a benefit for veterans held August 23 at the Sandpoint Elks Golf Course. Entry fee is $50 per person with this year’s Hole-In-One prize at $15,000!

The local Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter #890 held its annual yard sale August 1 and 2 at the VFW Hall. The yard sale was a huge benefit to assist veterans and/or their families who are less fortunate or in need. A huge thank you from the VVA to all veterans and comrade citizens who donated items and assisted.

The Second Annual Stand Down was a huge success with 850 homeless and needy veterans served on July 11. With the help of local Veterans Service Officers and many others, 20 new vets were enrolled into the VA’s health care system.

Kriss Perras Running Waters is a local filmmaker, former publisher and a disabled U.S. Navy Veteran.

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Kriss Perras Running Waters Kriss Perras Running Waters is an American female screenwriter, film director and publisher. She is a former Ocean Systems Technician Maintainer for the US Navy, and was the publisher of both PCH Press and the Malibu Arts Journal.

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