Legislation announced today by the Senate and House Veterans’ Affairs Committees aims to solve the wait-time crisis that has bedeviled veterans for years by providing $10 billion for vets, who live 40 miles from a Department of Veterans Affairs facility, to get treatment from private clinicians.
There’s one problem with this approach. The entire country, not just VA, faces a shortage of primary care physicians. About 20 percent of Americans live in rural areas with too few doctors, and the shortage will grow to 45,000 nationally by 2020, according to Kaiser Health News.
I live in rural New Mexico, which has a shortage of more than 200 primary care doctors, and no matter what Congress wants or dictates, that shortfall will not be fixed overnight.
The good primary care docs here where I live in (the original) Las Vegas, New Mexico, are not taking new patients anymore, and I have no desire to turn over my health care to a dangerous doc -- something Congress also did not consider.
I would rather see the $10 billion allocated for private care go to beefing up the staff of the 15 VA clinics in New Mexico.