The second description is the more accurate. My father has been in the Veterans medical system for years, and during that time we have witnessed dramatic improvement. Twenty years ago a Vet could get dramatically different care, depending on which facility he or she might go to. That seems to be far less the case now. The Vet can expect more standardized care across the nation. My mother recently went through a long series of hospital stays at various private hospitals, and I think overall my father fared better at the Veterans facilities. There seems to be much more of a tendency to treat the patient over just watching the bottom line.
Presently, my father is being cared for at the Veterans hospital in Denver, Colorado. Each time I have visited I have been impressed by the level of care of the facility and the staff. Previously he had been in the hospital in Portland, Oregon. I was equally impressed by the level of treatment he was given there. In both facilities the staff took the time to inform us (the family) each step of the way about each procedure they wanted to do, and they took the extra time to make sure we understood. Each time I went home I felt like I was leaving my father in the hands of people who were very much concerned with a successful outcome for him.
I think that the private health care system in America could learn from the Veterans system some things about how to run a hospital that centers on patient care. To those who remember the scenes from the film Born on the Fourth of July this may seem hard to believe. To those people I say go see for yourself. If you or someone in your is eligible for care at a Veterans hospital, don’t think that they will not get the best care available there. Private facilities may exceed the Veterans hospital on occassion (like for the most wealthy patients) but not often.
Essentially, the Veterans hospital system could be used as a model for more equitable health care for all Americans. It is a social medical system, after all. Care is provided to the Veteran for free, or for a fee based on the type of care (whether or not it is service related) and income. It shows us that we could build a system that defies the critics. Those who claim that care needs to be free market based to be good or wrong. Facilities like the hospitals of the Veterans Admininstration should be a starting point to look at for building national universal health care for all.