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Try a new approach to veterans’ health care

The Northport VA Medical Center needs $279 million

The Northport VA Medical Center needs $279 million in capital spending on the huge campus, which dates to the 1920's. Credit: Chuck Fadely

Try a new approach to veterans’ health care

Your May 22 editorial “Our VA hospital needs care, too” is a familiar refrain that calls for throwing more taxpayer money at a problem that needs original thinking.

I am a Vietnam veteran who is very satisfied with the care that I have received at the Northport Veterans Affairs Medical Center, but I recognize that the whole system is an anachronism left over from World War II.

Spending $279 million to renovate dozens of 60-year-old buildings shows a complete lack of imagination. How much private sector health care could be provided to Long Island veterans for that amount? And that does not include the annual operating expenses of the hospital. Do you know that the medical center has its own police force and fire department?

Medicare, begun in 1965, provides health care to every senior though the private sector with an administrative cost of about 3 percent. Why not issue an ID card to every eligible veteran to allow him or her to choose his or her own doctor, alleviating long waits for treatment?

Of course, there would be angry protests from the public sector labor unions, so we can’t expect our politicians to jeopardize their next elections, but the Newsday editorial board should be willing to think outside the box.

Stephen Sullivan, West Babylon