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Vets Happy with Their “Socialized Medicine”

Posted Oct 02 2009 10:01pm

For the doctor side of things, no threats of malpractice and oh yes, the billing nightmares are gone.  There’s no perfect system and the VA has had theirs as well.  I post about both, private and government facilities and there’s plenty of shortcomings at all.  The VA though is responsible to to government directly though as compared to a private hospital.  I had the opportunity to see a facility here in California, years ago before the image electronic medical records era began, but the VA had them at that time, and of course still does.  There has been talk lately though of whether or not the existing system should continue or be upgraded to a commercially purchased system.  When you stop and think about it, the Vista EMR system has been around for a long time and weathered some storms along the way, but it is still there.  BD  

Oct. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Rick Tanner is one American who loves his government-run health care.

After serving in Vietnam and spending three decades in the U.S. Navy, Tanner retired in 1991 with a bad knee and high blood pressure. He enrolled in the Veterans Health Administration and now benefits from comprehensive treatment with few co-payments and an electronic records system more advanced than almost anywhere at private hospitals.

“The care is superb,” said Tanner, 66, a San Diego resident who visits the veterans medical center in La Jolla, California, and a clinic in nearby Mission Valley. The record- keeping, he said, is “state of the art.”

The system is a larger enterprise than that envisioned for the so-called public option being considered by Congress, where the government would run a nonprofit insurer as an alternative to the private industry, not provide care. That hasn’t stopped opponents such as House Republican leader John Boehner from warning that President Barack Obama favors “government-run health care,” a criticism that bothers many veterans.

On the fourth floor of the medical center in Washington, a group of medical students and interns recently huddled around Doctor Divya Shroff, 34, beaming as she showed off the power of their tools. With a few clicks, Shroff viewed an interactive electrocardiogram on her BlackBerry, a valuable tool when a cardiologist off site needs to see something quickly, she said.

Duckworth and others praise facets of the veterans system that aren’t often used by private hospitals and doctors, including what she calls a “whole person” approach.  Doctors who work in the system are paid less than their private counterparts, with salaries ranging from $96,539 for low-end specialists to $385,000 for a group that includes heart surgeons, according to an August 2009 Federal Register notice. Those same surgeons might earn $1 million in private practice, according to Irving, Texas-based Merritt Hawkins & Associates, which tracks physician staffing and salaries.

Yet veterans doctors say they have different benefits. They don’t face the same threat of malpractice lawsuits, don’t have to worry about billing, and say electronic records allow them to practice better medicine while allowing them to see their kids more and log on from home to finish work.

Vets Loving Socialized Medicine Show Government Offers Savings - Bloomberg.com

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