It’s tough to know anymore what is real and what is just a PR stunt when it comes to sequestration cuts.
Last week, ABC News reported furloughs are coming to our nation’s premier military hospital, Walter Reed National Medical Center.
There is little information on what exactly these cuts will include, but plenty of questions: Are the furloughs for the nurses caring for wounded warriors or are they for support staff, janitors, and cafeteria workers? What will these cuts mean for patients and those waiting for treatment?
Walter Reed has a month to implement cuts and says it’s not yet able to say exactly how many hospital employees are being furloughed — or how this will impact patient care.
The bottom line is it won’t hurt our wounded warriors if a hospital administrator is furloughed for one day a week for a few months. But if they decide to furlough people directly involved with patient care, it might and it will be obvious that Walter Reed is making cuts with politics in mind, to “hurt as much as possible,” instead of protecting the interests of patients.
We’ve seen how this has worked before when Janet Napolitano announced that there would be long delays at the airport due to cuts to air traffic controllers. Clearly there were other better ways to make the numbers add up, but the priority was embarrassing lawmakers who agreed to sequestration in order to make a political point.
We shouldn’t allow this to occur at Walter Reed. Our veterans already deal with inadequate medical care. They are being failed by the government in other ways too: Currently we have over 850,000 veterans waiting for benefits from medical claims submitted to the Veterans Administration; 20,000 a year are dying waiting on their claims and some claims can even take over 600 plus days to resolve.
Our nation’s veterans deserve better from our nation’s leaders. Politicians should get down to serious business of cutting government inefficiency and wasteful spending. And they should do so without using the veterans’ medical care system as a political pawn.